Summer 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 2 // Feature Articles // 2FEA8

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Economic Options for Farm Families


Roger T. Williams
Associate Professor and Chairperson
Department of Health and Human Issues
University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension

Starting a Business in Your Home. Roger T. Williams. Madison, Wisconsin: Department of Health and Human Issues, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension, 1989. Video cassette (VHS, color, 15 minutes) and study guide. Videotape $40 each; $100 for set of 3. Available from: Roger T. Williams, Health and Human Issues, UW-Madison/Extension, 610 Langdon Street, Madison, WI 53703, 608-263-4432.

Farm families in Wisconsin and other states have found the need to generate additional income to offset the economic effects of the farm crisis. The most common response is to seek off-farm employment. Both farm men and women have found off-farm employment and, as a result, more than 80% of Wisconsin farms have supplemental farm income.

Other options exist for generating additional farm income. Health and Human Issues, a department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension, developed a three-part video project that identifies the following options for farm families: "Starting a Business in Your Home," "Diversifying Your Farm Operation," and "Seeking Off-Farm Employment." Each of these is the topic of a 15-minute VHS video that highlights farm families who are successfully experimenting with alternative ways of generating income.

"Starting a Business in Your Home," the first tape in the video series, focuses on the topic addressed in this issue of the Journal of Extension. It spotlights Bill and Eloise Kuenzi, a farm family who have started a bed and breakfast operation near New Glarus, Wisconsin. It also highlights the Hundt family - Vince has developed a small business selling wood harvesting equipment and Dawn has started a stained glass business based in the farm home.

The Economic Options project director, Roger Williams, says: "The videotapes are designed to crack open the attitude, 'I'm just a farmer...what else could I do?' The farm families chosen for the tapes have taken some bold new steps toward achieving financial security. Their sense of pride and self-confidence is inspiring for other farm families looking for financial stability."

The tapes are sold individually or as a set and are accompanied by an 18-page study guide that outlines action steps and dozens of helpful resources for farm families willing to take a risk and launch a new venture. The cost is $40 for one video (comes with one study guide) or $100 for the three-part set (comes with three copies of a study guide that supplements all three tapes).