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Program helps build financial confidence

nicexray/Getty Images Farm operators converse in the field
FINANCIAL TEAM: Producers can increase their bottom line by participating in the program called North Dakota Farm Management Education.
Guest Column: The North Dakota Farm Management Education program enables producers to “do the work.”

Spring is an awesome time of year in agriculture, with great signs of life and a fresh start to a new growing season or a new set of calves to enjoy all summer. All of these are the very visible, fun and exciting parts of agriculture that most enjoy and love to “do the work.”

However, there is always a part of every business that is less fun because it is hard or uncomfortable, as it is not easily identified by our sense of sight that provides “all the feels” of instant gratification. For many, financial management is the least favorite part of the business that is left until the last minute, or the last dollar runs out.

Producers work closely with an agronomist or feed nutritionist, and it’s crucial for producers to work even closer with a financial adviser that carefully breaks down all financials for the business.

Producers are excited to talk about the visual aspects of their operation, but it is our nature to avoid discussing financials with others. Regardless of how we feel, financial management is one of the most important aspects of a successful operation, requiring someone to “do the work” with the financials.

To ease the stress and anxiety of financial management, have an expert help you do the work by enrolling in the program called North Dakota Farm Management Education.

Services, benefits

The program is one of North Dakota’s best-kept secrets in providing critical thinking tools to producers by helping them understand their finances to make informed management decisions. Enrollees in the program benefit from improving their operation’s record-keeping system. Enhanced record keeping leads to diligent planning and complete enterprise analysis. The result: Producers are increasing their bottom line by implementing sound farm and ranch financial management decisions.

The program offers unique services that many accountants and lenders do not provide. The instructors make it a priority to build an individual relationship with producers they work with, and the program provides multiple formats of financial statements and training. This builds producers’ confidence to have efficient conversations with their lenders and tax preparers, resulting in more invested relationships.

Unbiased assistance

A unique feature of the program is that instructors are truly unbiased because they are not trying to sell the farmers and ranchers a product or service. Their purpose is to be an extra set of eyes on the operation while providing a financial analysis from a neutral point of view.

Another benefit is producers can compare their operations to others in their region of the state, as well as statewide via nonidentifiable data that is compiled into state and regional reports by the North Dakota State University Extension Service Farm and Family Resource Management specialists. Having an instructor serve as a guide to interpret and compare this unbiased data is invaluable to producers.

2020 survey   

People have the misconception that producers enroll in a class with a traditional classroom setting for a year or two and then graduate. This is far from the truth, as proven by a recent survey that 65% of the enrollees surveyed have been enrolled in the North Dakota Farm Management Education Program for 10 years or more as of November.

The survey also showed that 50% of enrollees surveyed benefit from an annual economic gain of $10,000 or more, and 17% indicated an annual economic gain of $50,000 or more. This is an excellent return on investment when a program enrollee pays and average annual enrollment fee of only $650. There is not another comprehensive program with this low cost to high return ratio.

Respondents of the 2020 survey indicated the top reasons why they maintain their enrollment in the program year after year. They are:

  • enhanced record keeping
  • enterprise analysis
  • planning for future
  • farm evaluations
  • control of expenses
  • profitability and management decisions
  • next-generation transition of operation
  • aid in securing operating loans
  • unbiased look at operation

A Bismarck State College enrollee said, "I tell all of the new farmers in the area that the best money they could spend is to join this program and learn how to do this part of farming correctly. I feel it is one of the most vital parts of my farming regimen.”

Enroll today

Enrollees’ ages range from 18 to 70, and from first-year farms to well-established generational operations. The program consists of 15 instructors spread out across North Dakota representing four community colleges: Bismarck State College, Dakota College at Bottineau, Lake Region State College, and North Dakota State College of Science, as well as Glen Ullin High School. Enroll at any time to ensure a brighter future for your farm or ranch. Visit North Dakota Farm Management Education to find an instructor near you.

Kleven is the supervisor for agricultural education for North Dakota Career and Technical Education. Contact him at [email protected] or 701-328

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