Know to Grow program puts young farmers to the test

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Supporting the next generation of farmers is one of the key purposes of Farm Credit Mid-America’s Growing Forward initiative. The program, which started in 2014, just hosted its annual Know to Grow conference in Columbus.The two-day event featured a wide range of topics, with speakers covering anything from the basics of understanding the farm’s financials, to succession planning to way to maximize the farm’s position financially.The value of a meeting like the Know to Grow conference is not only help young and beginning farmers who are looking for ideas and new ways to keep the farm profitable, it is also of value to Farm Credit Mid-America as these up and coming farmers learn to be better borrowers.“Many young and beginning farmers are very good at the production aspect of what they do on the farm, but we are trying to shift that mindset and get them to focus more on the financial management side,” said Jonathan Carter, AVP of Farm Credit Mid-America’s Growing Forward campaign. “The financial side of farming may not be as fun as driving a tractor but it is very essential is running a successful farming operation.”Gary Matteson, Farm Credit, gives the Keynote Address at this year’s Know to Grow ConferenceThe Keynote Speaker for the gathering was Farm Credit’s VP of Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach, Gary Matteson. He told the roomful of nearly 100 farmers that the first thing they need to do in order to be successful is to define success.“Everybody can think about success as having 300 cows or a 300 horsepower tractor or 300 acres and those sorts of measures are what you grow up with on the farm,” Matteson said. “What comes from a session like this one is that these farmers can take those numbers and see just how profitable that scenario is. Maybe you can make more money with 125 cows than you can with 300. The ability to analyze the kind of dream you have and turn it into a plan is what I hope this conference accomplishes.”In order for a farm to be successful it, like any other business, requires three basic skills which include finance, production and marketing. Many farmers, who see production as their strong suit, will still try to do all of these skills at the same time, when the best strategy may be to delegate those other skills.“The financial skills are the easiest ones to hire through a book keeper or a loan officer to help you through some of those difficult planning questions that are needed for the financial aspect of your farm,” Matteson said. “Those tough questions are what build character. Young farmers need to understand that they will get asked some tough questions by a loan officer, whether they are financial or management related. They are simply seeking to understand the nature and scope of your business and if you understand why they need to ask those questions, then it’s going to be much easier to answer them.”Latham Farley was one of the beginning farmers taking part in the Know to Grow meetings. He is working with his wife’s family in Englewood, Ohio and a plan is in place for him to begin taking on more responsibilities in the near future. Farley started 2017 by building a business plan, an idea suggested by his Farm Credit Mid-America advisor. He was hoping to take away some more ideas from the conference to help him complete the task.“I didn’t know what to expect when I began putting my plan to paper, but when I got to identifying short and long-term goals and wrote out how I’d work the equipment side of things and work with my in-laws and then farm for myself it got pretty difficult,” Latham said. “The hard part was writing out how we actually do things on our farm and it made me have to think out how to organize my plan and just how viable the operation would be ten years down the road.”Rachel Heimerl is the Office Manager of Heimerl Farms, a large scale hog operation based in Johnstown, Ohio. Her motivation for being a part of the conference was unique in that she was looking to add value to her position and what she can offer to the family farm.“My goal is to better understand balance sheets and financial statements,” Heimerl said. “I want to be able to pull that type of information from our accounting system and help the farm make better decisions in the future.”Currently, with large supplies of pork on the market for the foreseeable future, the hog business is not the easiest one to be in. That is why finding the “balance” in the balance sheet is so important for Heimerl.“Every decision we are making needs to be a sound one,” Heimerl said. “We can’t overspend and we have to keep a close eye on the markets. There are so many other farmers down the line that are depending on that.”AUDIO: Know to Grow program puts young farmers to the testTy’s Wrap for Wednesday LONGlast_img

Post A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *