; Farm Management 101 for Montana Farmers and Ranchers | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Farm Management 101 for Montana Farmers and Ranchers

Joel Schumacher, Kate Fuller, George Haynes, and Eric Belasco


Agricultural producers are often involved in agriculture because of a passion about some aspect of farming or ranching. In many cases the passion that drew them was not risk management.

However, risk management is a necessary component of a successful agricultural enterprise. Many producers recognize this, but lack access to appropriate tools, analysis, or resources in their communities. The Farm Management 101 workshops, offered in locations across Montana, seek to provide access to farm and ranch business management resources with an emphasis on risk.

Livestock producers, those involved in non-traditional crop production, and minority groups (specifically Native American producers in Montana) have historically accessed federally sponsored risk management tools less than commodity crop producers and other farming demographics. Through informal conversations and early workshop evaluations, we identified these groups as both requiring specific, targeted educational efforts and not currently being served by our efforts to provide farm management and risk management education in Montana.

We are now in the third year of administering a series of in-person two-day workshops to serve these communities. The workshops and materials are structured to cover core areas of farm management. Each also contains materials and exercises targeted to each specific group. Core materials include family business dynamics, personal financial management, crop and livestock insurance, non-agricultural risk management (life and health insurance for farm families), an agricultural economy outlook, farm policy update, land leasing issues, and retirement and estate planning. Extension agricultural economists provide the majority of the content, but other extension and agriculture experiment station faculty participate also contribute by providing either in-person or recorded content. The workshops can be used to satisfy for borrower training requirements for some Farm Service Agency loans and loan guarantees.

To date, after two years of workshops, we have reached approximately 125 people. We have offered the workshops in three reservation communities. This year we will offer eight workshops, including two in reservation communities. Two workshops will have a local and direct to consumer focus, one will be crop-focused, and three will have a livestock focus. The remainder will be some combination of those topics. Local county and reservation extension faculty are responsible for providing some content and guidance in selecting the remainder of the content, making each workshop unique and focused on the local community.

By the time of the 2019 ERME Conference, the winter 2018/2019 workshop series will be complete. We will present course evaluation data and comments from this round of workshops. We will also encourage audience discussion and feedback, which will be useful in informing the next round of workshops in 2019/2020 and potentially forming collaborations with other states.

Presentation Materials