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The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers: Keeping the Dream of Farming Alive

As older farmers retire, fewer young farmers are stepping in to take their place. The number of beginning farmers dropped 20 percent in the last five-year census period, and the average US farmer now tops 58 years of age. more

CIAS Mini-Grants Support Graduate Student Research in Sustainable Agriculture

CIAS supports innovative graduate student research addressing the challenges faced by small- and medium-sized farms and food businesses. Awarded annually, our competitive mini-grants aid students as they initiate their research in sustainable agriculture and food systems. more


Announcing the 2019 Market Farm Madness Champion!

Hoophouse is your 2019 Market Farm Madness champion! They withstood high winds, late snow storms and controversy over cost share payments to win the tournament. more

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Growing Midwestern Tree Nut Businesses: Five Case Studies

Posted November 2016

The United States is feeding global and domestic appetites for tree nuts. Production has expanded rapidly in response to strong export demand and increased domestic utilization. In 2014, the value of U.S. tree nut production exceeded $10.4 billion. Growers in the Midwest are exploring and capitalizing on the potential of this perennial crop to increase farm income and diversify production. The Midwest is home to some successful nut businesses, and expanding tree nut production in this region can potentially increase the sustainability of agriculture and food systems.

In order to address some of the challenges of forming a business for aggregating, processing and marketing tree nuts, the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) conducted case study research of five midwestern tree nut businesses. The core activity of all of these businesses is to process a raw product—nuts in the shell—into a ready-to-eat food. The businesses in this study are based in Missouri, Michigan, Nebraska and Iowa, and the nuts they process include Chinese and hybrid chestnuts, black walnuts and pecans. Business structures include two cooperatives, a family corporation and two limited liability companies (LLCs).

Read the full report (PDF)