Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
OSU team helping producers tackle farm financial decisions
Team members said the hardest part is describing the OSU effort concisely because it includes a number of components: online FSA Borrower Training, Learn at Lunch Webinar Series, Conferences and Individual Farm Financial Planning Assistance.
“The now-funded project provides a wide range of timely, relevant and practical insights to forage and livestock producers, specialty crop producers and minority producers, all of whom tend to be very busy people,” said Damona Doye, OSU Cooperative Extension farm management specialist and project team member.
Many segments of the agriculture industry are facing financial challenges caused by low commodity prices. For some producers, debt accumulation combined with increasing interest rates are adding to the pain, even as beginning producers are looking for opportunities to get established in a way that increases their likelihood of success.
“Sound financial management skills are a must if a producer is to promote the long-term viability of his or her farm or ranch operation,” Doye said. “Yes, production and marketing are important but controlling costs is critical. The first step is awareness.”
Busy is a four-letter word
Another team member, Rodney Jones, endowed Oklahoma Farm Credit Professor of Agricultural Finance with OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, said the team determined the best way to meet outreach and education challenges was to make needed information available through a variety of venues over time, including but not limited to:
● A Learn-At-Lunch webinar series that is not only easily viewable “over the lunch hour” but also provides an opportunity for completion of FSA Borrower training;
● “Beginning farmer” day-long workshops;
● A statewide conference focusing on women in agriculture; and
● One-on-one farm financial planning assistance for interested producers.
“Faculty and staff in our OSU department of agricultural economics have extensive experience in assisting producers and others to navigate financially challenging times,” Jones said.
Think of it as peeling the layers of an onion: Individual participants can “go as deep as they need to go,” thereby fine-tuning the project to meet their own specific needs.
“The webinars encompass a wide variety of production, legal, marketing, financial and risk management topics; the webinar format allows producers throughout the state and region to expand their practical knowledge while facilitating access to FSA resources,” Jones said.
Doye and Jones explained the “beginning farmer” day-long workshops also include information on FSA programs appropriate to the target audience and overall focus of each workshop, be it horticulture or beef production.
“One of the most important aspects of the project is participants have the opportunity to work with Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service professionals on a one-on-one basis to develop customized farm financial statements,” Doye said. “These statements include cash flow plans, balance sheets, income statements and financial ratios.”
Maximizing value through cooperating partnerships
OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is comprised of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the university’s two state agencies: The Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.
“For more than a century, OSU has worked closely with cooperating partners in the agricultural industry and local, county and state government to help producers and others address concerns and issues important to them, their families and their communities,” said Mike Woods, head of OSU’s department of agricultural economics. “Projects such as this represent a longstanding and ongoing important aspect of the land-grant university mission.”
Brent Ladd, OSU Cooperative Extension agricultural economist and project team member, agrees, adding “this cooperation allows each partner to specialize and build upon each other’s strengths and specific knowledge and skill sets to accomplish more than is possible by working alone.”
Or as Jones said, “The more minds and more resources addressing individual issues is more often than not a big plus.”
The latest project webinar listings and additional information about workshops, conferences and resources are available online at http://www.agecon.okstate.edu/efarmmanagement.
DASNR News and Media Relations
Agricultural Communications Services
132 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078