February 6, 2009

Use by February 21, 2009
Contacts: Jessica Prosper, 518-483-7403; Molly Ames, 315-788-8450

Free Finance Training Available for Farm Managers in NNY
“Good financial management skills can help you stay on the farm”

In the current economic climate, costs, cash flow, and controlling profit and loss are top-of-the-mind for business owners. Farm business managers in need of practicing or improving their financial management skills can take free in-person and online courses offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension in late February and early March.

Managing with Finance: A Basic Finance Class for Farm Business Managers will be offered at three locations on Tuesday, February 24, 1-3pm: in Malone at the Distance Learning Center at North Country Community College, and in Lowville at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County; on Wednesday, February 25, 1-3pm at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County, Plattsburgh, and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, Watertown; and on Friday, February 27, 1-3 pm in Canton at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County Learning Farm.

Course organizer Jessica Prosper, a farm business management educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, says, “Accurate and detailed business records are essential tools for evaluating financial health and needs. Financial statements developed with the data from those records can be used for a practical numbers-based analysis of your business.”

An online edition of the Managing with Finance: Basic and Intermediate Skills will begin in early March. Online instructor Molly Ames, a farm business management educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, says, “The online version of this finance course provides farmers with the flexibility and convenience of working from home to practice the skills needed to complete and use financial statements, income and expense and cash flow reports, and trend analysis statements.”

“Farm business managers need to use budgets and cash flow analysis to make informed decisions, particularly now when tight control of costs can make a critical difference in a farm’s bottom line,” Ames adds.

The computerized course will be available online beginning Sunday, March 1st with a specific course section each week for three weeks. Each week’s section will include hands-on exercises and virtual classroom support with audio and chat features. Each week’s work provides the foundation for the following week’s exercises.

Dairy farmer Michael Kiechle of Garden of Eden Farm, Philadelphia, says, “With today’s economic environment and the prediction of $13.95 milk pricing, you have to know whether it costs you $12.95 or $15.95 to make milk. Good records give you the information you need to make profitable decisions. Farmers often go on a gut reaction that may or may not accurately reflect your actual costs. You have to have the numbers to confirm or correct your assumptions. Good financial management skills can help you stay on the farm.”

Kiechle participates in the Dairy Farm Business Summary that gathers farm data in a number of categories and allows a farmer to measure his farm’s performance against other similar size farms across New York state. He says he uses the data he collects for his Summary year-round.

“For example, I have used my records to analyze whether or not I was making money putting up my own feed compared to buying corn meal,” Kiechle says. “Having a good set of records also makes my life easier at tax time and a banker can see you are serious about managing your expenses and profit when you keep good records.”

The in-person and online courses are both eligible for FSA Borrower Training Credits. For more details, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension for the Canton site: 315-379-9192 (Jessica Prosper); Lowville site: 315-376-5270 (Peggy Murray); Malone site: 518-483-7403 (Jessica Prosper); Plattsburgh site: 518-962-4810 (Anita Deming); Watertown site: 315-788-8450 (Molly Ames).

Additional resources for farm managers can be found on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org. # # #