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Online help for farmers to learn finances
[November 20, 2009]

Online help for farmers to learn finances

Nov 20, 2009 (The Land - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Today's farming is more complex than ever. A producer needs to wear many hats and become an expert in so many facets of ag production.

The Center for Farm Financial Management has developed an online series to aid farmers in a huge aspect of farming -- finances. The series, "Interpreting Financial Statements and Measures," goes through four major financial statements and 21 financial measures.

According to the CFFM associate director Dale Nordquist, this program was created because it's "not the kind of thing you can do a one-hour session on." The web series is "aimed specifically at producers," he said.

This is not the Center's first foray into online programs. They "put together a full training program online for FINPACK," Nordquist said. Twenty people have tested the new series and provided positive feedback.

While producers may know a lot about growing a crop, "most producers don't have a lot of background in finance." That is why this online program was so needed.

Nordquist believes that producers are now expected to be a scientist and a business person when it comes to agriculture. They are also getting into more complex marketing and partnerships today than in the past.

The goal of this series is to "understand the sum of the financial side of their business better," Nordquist said. "Use that info as they move forward year to year and if any changes need to be made." Those wanting to participate in this online series must have their financial data available to them. Another qualification is that producers must have high-speed internet required to run the program.

The program offers case farm situations modeled after actual farms. Nordquist believes that using actual farm situations is essential for those participating to see the real-life applications. In fact, real farms are stranger than anything you could make up, he said.

There are also quizzes included "more for fun than for anything else," Nordquist said. There are over 2 1/2 hours of information in the series.

The program was launched this fall, and Nordquist realizes that the wet, late harvest may prevent producers from participating until this winter. Rest assured, finances will always be waiting.

The series is free and is available by logging on to

Originally published in the November 13, 2009, print edition.

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