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February, March: Extension offers farm financial education opportunities Feb. 24 and Feb. 25

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 03/06/2014 4:49 PM

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CRESCO —Northeast Iowa farm families have several opportunities for financial education in the next few months, and the timing could not be better.

After several years of financial gains in agriculture, the future is uncertain. Crop prices are projected to be down more than $2 a bushel for corn and soybeans in the coming year.

"The outlook for profitability is very different," said Kristen Schulte, Iowa State University Extension farm management specialist based in Cresco.

She and fellow Extension farm management specialists Kelvin Leibold, Tim Eggers and Ann Johanns as well as Ohio Extension colleague Chris Bruynis developed "Rocking the Boat: Deep Water or High Tide on the Beach" to help farmers prepare for changes in profitability.

"When profit margins tighten, is your boat in deep water?" Schulte said. "Or is it in a high tide and when the water recedes and high prices leave will your boat be stranded on the beach?"

In northern Iowa, Deep Water or High Tide will be Feb. 24 on the Northeast Iowa Community College campus in Cresco, and Feb. 25 in the Ellsworth Community College Agriculture and Renewable Energy Center in Iowa Falls. Call (563) 547-3001 to register for the Cresco location and (641) 648-4850 to register for the Iowa Falls program. Programs will be 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration is $25.

"Participants will learn how changes to interest rates and other input costs can affect their net farm income," Schulte said. "They will also look at ways to manage these changes to balance lower prices and rising costs in the future."

Program developers are targeting young producers but all ages are welcome. During the morning participants will learn how to interpret financial documentation, measure and bench mark and calculate financial ratios. In the afternoon they will use five case studies developed by program organizers to see how changes in land values and commodity prices impact financial statements and the position of a farm operation.

"We will incorporate games and fun activities and there will be door prizes," Schulte said. "It will be a fun way to learn about farm finances. Using someone else's numbers, participants will apply the concepts they are learning about and take that information home to their operations."

The second program, "Moving Beyond the Basics," is a four-week financial education program for farm women.

"This program is modeled after Annie's Project,'' Schulte said.

The program will be 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays from Jan. 28 to Feb. 18 in the Chickasaw County Extension office in New Hampton and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesdays from March 5 to March 26 at the Hardin County Extension office in Iowa Falls.

Registration includes a meal each night plus hand-out material. To sign up for the New Hampton site, contact Danielle Day at (641) 394-2174 or Schulte at (563) 547-3001. For the Iowa Falls site, contact Kelvin Leibold at (641) 648-4850.

Schulte will team teach the New Hampton course. An accountant from Hacker, Nelson & Co. in Decorah will assist the first week. Sumner attorney Pat Dillon, who also farms with his family and is a tax preparer, will speak the second week. Kent Vickre with the Iowa Farm Business Association will join Schulte the third week. A panel of local ag lenders will speak the fourth week. The focus is on financial literacy and presenting information on financial analysis resources. Farm women will have the opportunity to evaluate record keeping systems and test accounting software.

"Rocking the Boat: Your Key Ratio" is a 45-minute program focusing on current ratios and working capital offered as part of this year's Crop Advantage conferences. For more information on remaining Crop Advantage conferences go to

For more information on these programs, visit the Ag Decision Maker website at

Schulte will also teach two other financial education courses for farm women.

A classic Annie's Project course will meet from 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 13, 20, 27 and March 13, 20 and 27 at James Kennedy Public Library in Dyersville. The program will focus on price, production, financial, legal and human resources risk management and will also incorporate agronomy concepts.

Register online at For more information contact Lori Scovel at (563) 927-4201 or, Jason Neises at (563) 583-6496 or

A next generation Annie's Project course, "Managing for Today and Tomorrow: Succession, Business and Retirement Planning for Farm and Ranch Women" will be 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 4, 11, 18 and April 1 in the Mitchell County Extension office in Osage. Schulte said a lot of activities will be built into the program to get woment thinking and planning for farm succession. Register at

For more information contact Darla Olson at or (641) 732-5574.

Both the Osage and Dyersville programs will include speakers and resources.

Contact Schulte about all five programs at at (563) 547-3001 or