Farm Financial Planning Program helps producers analyze their numbers

COURTESY OF IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION AND OUTREACH
Stock photo.

AMES, Iowa — As farmers begin to make financial projections for the new year, there are resources available from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach that can help.

A popular choice is the Farm Financial Planning Program, which includes access to seven different farm financial associates, in addition to software and helpful publications and guides.

Nancy Brannaman, a financial associate from east central Iowa, said the program allows producers and the associate to take a broad look at what’s going on within an operation, where the operator would like to be in the future and what must be done for success.

“We use budgeting software that allows us to analyze a farm’s current situation, beginning balance sheet and income statement, costs of production and family living expense,” she said. “With all of this information, we can look not only at profitability but also debt repayment capacity and alternative business options, based on cash flow from farm and non-farm income.”

Like the other financial associates, Brannaman has a background in risk management and finance. She is the farm manager for her family farm, in Illinois, and worked for nearly seven years as a farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

Honest answers

Ann Johanns, program specialist with economics at Iowa State, said the associates give an honest assessment about the path forward.

The associate offers a big picture look at the farm, and it’s up to the farmer to make specific changes and to contact the specialists who can help. While working with financial associates is important, Johanns said it’s equally important to follow up with the specialists the associate recommends.

“It’s all inter-related,” Johanns said. “The associates are one piece of looking at the overall picture.”

Making decisions

Brannaman said the clients she helps are often looking to enter farming or expand in a way that allows more family members to work for the farm.

She said the financial program also helps families who just need to get everyone on the same page, especially when multiple generations are involved.

“I value family farming and fully employing family members on farms and supporting small towns and rural schools,” she said. “As an associate, I get to accomplish this by helping farm families and new farmers figure out how to bring in new family members, and use their talents and interests in the family operation.”

Farmers can locate a Farm Financial Planning Program associate in their area by contacting their ISU Extension and Outreach county office (https://www.extension.iastate.edu/countyservices) or by visiting the Farm Financial Planning Program website.

For questions on whether meeting with an associate is the right step, contact the farm management field specialist in your area: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/ag/farm-management.