The objective of Farm & Financial Management Extension programs is to help Maryland farmers improve their business management skills to improve management productivity, increase profitability, and fulfill their long-term goals. It is accomplished through workshops, seminars, and individual on-farm consultations involving farm business management, strategic and tactical planning, record keeping, financial analysis, and computer applications for farm managers, educators, lenders, and others. Workshops and seminars are prepared and conducted at the request of, and in teamwork with Extension Educators, Specialists, and others. The program involves adaptive research on business planning techniques, crop and livestock enterprise analysis, farm machinery economics, risk management, crop insurance, computer use in agriculture, economics of alternative agricultural enterprises, and economics of sustainable agriculture methods.
Business Planning for Maryland Agribusinesses
This program provides managers of commercial farms, small farms, greenhouses, and nurseries with education and assistance in developing effective business plans for their businesses. A business plan is a detailed, written document that will help them manage their operations in the short-term and long-term. It is an organized collection of all the important ideas that include mission statements, annual goal statements, resource inventories, marketing plans, production plans, financial plans, and business structure plans. Hardcopy and electronic materials on business planning are available to Maryland farm managers.
Dairy Farm Management Program
This program provides specific financial and business planning tools to Maryland dairy farm managers. Analytical tools have been developed to help dairy farm managers manage their operations. The Maryland Dairy Farm Business Summary is a major component of this program. In this summary, dairy farmers are taught how to use their IRS Schedule F tax forms to analyze the financial condition of their farms. The information on their tax schedules is converted to a per cwt basis so that they are able to see the specific strengths and weaknesses of their businesses. They are also able to compare their businesses with other dairy farms in Maryland and in the northeast to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Farm Financial Management and Computer Record Keeping Using Quicken
This program helps farm managers improve their record keeping and financial management skills so that they can enhance the profitability, liquidity, and solvency of their farm businesses. A secondary objective of the program is that farm managers will improve their computer skills and incorporate computer technology into the management of their farm operations. These objectives are accomplished by conducting two types of workshops. The first type of workshop is 2-4 hours in length and involves stepping the participants through the financial record keeping and analysis process through the use of fact sheets. They learn to develop monthly record keeping systems, balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow budgets. The second type of workshop is 6-9 hours in length spread over 2-3 days. Farm managers learn the "Six Easy Steps to Farm Financial Management which include: balance sheet, projected cash flow, weekly record keeping, projected vs. actual cash flow comparison, inventory adjusted income statement, and enterprise analysis." Farm managers are taught how to do these steps on a computer using the "Quicken" and "Quickbooks" record keeping programs and the Excel spreadsheet.
Financial Management and Business Planning for Farm Service Agency Borrowers
This program trains farm managers who receive financial assistance from the USDA Farm Service Agency. Farm managers who receive FSA financial assistance are required to take this course. The course is 25 hours spread over 5 days. Farm managers learn how to prepare and analyze balance sheets, accrual adjusted income statements, cash flow budgets, and business plans for their operations. They are then required to complete these documents for their own farms and to pass tests to receive certification that they have completed the course.
Equine Financial Management Using QuickBooks
The equine industry is an important economic segment of Maryland agriculture and the number of equine operations is expanding. In many of these operations, management is focused on the production side of the business often times to the detriment of the financial side of the business. Through this program the managers learn about profitability, solvency, and liquidity through the use of financial statements and to diagnose weaknesses in the business. They learn to use the QuickBooks computer accounting programs to keep records and generate the financial statements. Upon completion of the program, the managers will be better prepared to deal with the financial risks of their businesses.
Enterprise Budgeting for Maryland Farms
This method involves (1) identifying alternative crop, animal, and recreational enterprises for Maryland farm managers, (2) estimating output levels, output prices, input requirements, input prices, and profits from alternative enterprises, and (3) estimating labor, management, and financial requirements for different enterprises. This program resulted in Maryland farm managers having objective methods for evaluating alternative enterprises that they are considering.
Maryland Agriculture Web Page
A web page at www.marylandagriculture.info is the definitive internet source for linking individuals interested in Maryland agriculture. Consumers will find listings of local farmers' markets on this site as well as links to other interesting agricultural sites. Farmers can link to agricultural associations and organizations, financial institutions, suppliers and equipment dealers, educational and governmental sites, and publications and software that might be useful. Both consumers and farmers will find many sources of on-line, technical information.
For more information about farm & financial management Extension programs contact: Dale M. Johnson