“There’s always a mile-long list of things to do on the farm,” said farm analyst LaVell Winsor. “But take the time to sit back and ask ‘where do we want to go with this business?’ ”

That was the question asked of nearly 700 women Wednesday night who came together for a meeting of the minds that spanned the state, called the Women in Agriculture Farm Financial Series.

The webinar was the first of four made possible by Kansas State University Research and Extension, which broadcast live lectures by K-State ag-experts to 32 locations across Kansas.

About 35 women from this region took advantage of the remote access provided by the series, which was played host by Andrea Burns, K-State Extension agent in Ford County, at the Ford County Fair Grounds.

Keynote speakers included Winsor and Mykel Taylor, associate professor of agricultural economics at K-State, as well farm economist Robin Reid.

“Our goal is to help farm families survive and thrive in this difficult economy,” Taylor said. “It’s important to know your finances in the greater economic picture. These are the resources you can take back to your farms and build upon your current financial structure.”

The last five years have been tough on farms, she said, and while they began to recover in 2018, 21% of farms in Kansas were still in the red, and many farms reported income between zero and $50,000.

Farms in southwest Kansas reported an average net farm income of $180,000 that year, the highest in the state.

Government payments have been playing a bigger part of net farm income, but there “is no indication we’ll see MFP payments in 2020,” Taylor said of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Market Facilitation Program for farmers adversely impacted by foreign trade disruptions.

Participants were encouraged to think big and of the long-term profitability of their land.

“We buy land with our kids in mind because we want to pass it on,” Taylor said. “You can’t be large and not manage well.”

According to a K-State news release, more than 25,500 women are decision makers on Kansas farms.

They farm more than 14 million acres, according to the USDA’s Census of Agriculture.

Overall, in 2017, 36% of all agricultural producers across the country were women, up from 31.5% in 2012. Fifty-six percent of farms had at least one female decision maker.

Women who keep accurate and timely records are those with the sharpest tools in their shed, Reid said.

“What record-keeping method works best for your family,” she asked. “Know your operation and your financial position better than anyone else.”

As for the next generation, Winsor advised the audience to encourage their kids to go to work for somebody outside the family, even if they’re planning to come home, to provide another level of education they can implement back on the family farm.

On the other hand, “maybe they won’t think mom and dad are so crazy after all once they see how others manage a business,” she said.

The women who invest in themselves and maintain the networks they establish via programs like this one will “get the farm off the ground,” Winsor said.

To access a financial record-keeping spreadsheet recommended by the experts in this series, go to Google and search “Missouri Farm Book Excel Sheet.”

They also recommended contacting the Kansas Farm Management Association, 1409 E. Tail St., at 620-225-5600.

For more information on the agricultural economy, visit K-State’s www.agmanager.info.

Contact Reid at 785-532-0964 or robinreid@K-State.edu; Winsor at 785-220-5451 or lwinsor@K-State.edu; and Taylor at 785-532-3033 or mtaylor@K-State.edu.

 

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