National Farm Viability Conference

Join us for the 6th National Farm Viability Conference

Spring 2024: April 29 – May 2

Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center

​Charleston, West Virginia

The conference will feature engaging workshop sessions and bring together farm viability professionals from across the nation for peer-to-peer learning and networking with a focus on strengthening farm sustainability, building stronger and more resilient local food systems, and supporting the long-term profitability of farming and agri-entrepreneurs from start-ups to multi-generational businesses.

The Alliance serves as the backbone and continuity organization for the Farm Viability Conference, coordinating with local hosts. This year’s host is West Virginia University Extension.

2026 National Farm Viability Conference

Stay tuned for dates and location!

Look for more information in 2025. If your organization would like to be part of the conference planning, please reach out to the Alliance.

Business Advisor Professional Development Opportunities


Farm Financial Advising: Building Your Skills, with Mark Cannella

Oct 5th & 6th, 2023, in Amherst, MA


Looking to enhance your existing business advising to farm and food businesses? Join us for an in-person training. This opportunity for business advisors will improve your ability to produce high-quality financial statements and is targeted at early and mid-career professionals.


The training is free of charge and will be held in Amherst, MA on October 5th & 6th, 2023. Attendees are responsible for their own travel and lodging costs. The course is capped at 18 participants. Advisors who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), serving businesses in New England and New York will receive priority attendance, should the course fill.


This is a version of the training Mark Cannella and Sam Smith delivered in Northfield, VT in December 2022. If there is further interest, we will run the training again in 2024.


This course is organized by the Agricultural Viability Alliance and The Carrot Project in coordination with the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust and Black Farmer Fund.

Learn more and register here.

What is the Agricultural Viability Alliance?


The Agricultural Viability Alliance connects farm, food and forestry viability advisors in New England and the Hudson Valley.


These advisors work with farmers to build resilient businesses, access markets and farmland, execute business transitions, and achieve other goals.


Regionally, we offer a community for advisors to access professional development and mentorship, so they can do their best work.


Nationally, the Alliance brings advisors together to advance policy that ensures consistent funding for business assistance — so the groundbreaking work our network members have spearheaded for decades will be built into the sector long-term.


The Alliance is hosted by The Carrot Project. Together, we work toward a just and resilient farm and food system, guided by our shared commitment to racial equity and an inclusive sector.

How do we work?


We envision a thriving regional food system across New England and Hudson Valley, where farm and food entrepreneurs and their employees have the business knowledge necessary to both make an abundant living and contribute to the social wellbeing of their community. We envision this region and our own organization as constantly striving to overcome systemic racism and all other forms of oppression.



Our mission is to increase the number and economic viability of farm and food businesses representing the diverse populations in New England and New York’s Hudson Valley region. 



In an environment of uneven access, quality, and knowledge, the Alliance’s purpose is to ensure consistent and equitable access to high-quality, culturally competent business technical assistance for farm and food entrepreneurs.


Goal and Objectives

Our goal is to establish and sustain a strong and diverse alliance of business technical assistance providers that facilitates professional development, networking, and advocacy opportunities for members while cultivating a pipeline of future service providers and securing resources to benefit the entire alliance.

Connect with the Alliance

The Alliance currently has the following Committees, Working Groups, and Communities of Practice.

Our activities evolve as network and sector needs change. If you are interested in joining the work of our network, forming a Community of Practice group, or learning more, please contact Benneth Phelps and Amanda Chang.
  • Steering Committee
  • Workforce and Professional Development Working Group
  • Climate Professionals Community of Practice
  • Advocacy, Policy and Resource Development Working Group

Benneth Phelps

Executive Director, The Carrot Project

617 674 2371, Ext. 5

Amanda Chang

Relationships & Sector Development Coordinator, The Carrot Project

617 674 2371, Ext. 10

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Agricultural Viability Alliance Newsletter

Alliance Advocacy Efforts

What is Business Technical Assistance?

Food Business BTA Story: Teodora’s Boucherie Gourmande

Business Technical Assistance VT Program Example

Urban Agriculture BTA Story: Oasis on Ballou

Climate and Technical Assistance

Regardless of sector, farmers report a significant need for expanded one-on-one business and technical assistance to ensure they can weather the economic storms created by climate impacts. Less than half of farmers from any sector in the studies cited believed they had the business or technical knowledge to implement effective farm adaptation and mitigation strategies and plan their finances accordingly. Access to microloans and capital investments, with one-on-one advising to ensure successful implementation, was listed as a key need for future farming success. If we want to ensure that our farmers in New England and the Hudson Valley not only survive but also thrive in the face of climate change, we must use policy to expand one-on-one advising resources—especially to farmers who have been historically shut out of resources. 


Read the full Alliance Climate and Agriculture in the Northeast and the Hudson Valley White Paper.

2019 State of the Sector Report

In 2019, the Alliance sought to learn more about our sector—specifically, what business development services for farm and food businesses are available in New England and New York’s Hudson Valley, who provides them, and who benefits. We also wanted to learn more about the entities doing the work to better understand how the Alliance can support expansion of one-on-one business technical assistance throughout the region. Our resulting survey received 37 responses from nonprofits, cooperative extensions, state agencies, private consultants, capital providers, and more. Services were provided to small and mid-size family farms, as well as other food enterprises, and these services included feasibility and planning support, marketing, accounting and taxes, legal and estate planning, and access to capital. The availability of specific services, however, varied by stage of business as well as by geography. This report summarizes our findings.



● Business advisors offer a wide range of types of assistance, but many of the available options are not uniformly available across the field or to businesses at every stage.

● Most respondents offer less than 21 total hours of one-on-one business technical assistance to each client in 2018.

● Nearly half of the organizational respondents have an annual budget of $1 million or more; however, among all respondents, most use less than half of their budgets for one-on-one business technical assistance. In fact, 41 percent use less than a quarter of their budgets for this purpose.

● Tracking of demographic information about their clients and program participants varies across respondents and offers an incomplete overall view of clients’ races, ages, incomes, and genders.

● Respondents track a diverse array of outcomes to assess their programs’ and their clients’ successes.


Read the Agricultural Viability Alliance – 2019 State of the Sector Survey Report.


Benneth Phelps

Executive Director, The Carrot Project

Amanda Chang

Relationships & Sector Development Coordinator, The Carrot Project