By Brenda Duckworth
Boot Camp was a Great Learning Opportunity
If you weren’t in St. Louis at Union Station January 20th, then you definitely missed out!
That’s where Farm Futures magazine, along with the Farm Financial Standards Council, hosted the 3rd Ag Finance Boot Camp. Nearly 150 attendees, literally from across the country, heard about how to read financial statements, the importance of management (accrual) accounting, improving lender relationships, using contribution margin analysis, and knowing whether you have the right information to make the best financial decisions, to name just a few discussion topics.
I was honored to help design and present some of the content alongside Paul Neiffer, of CliftonLarsonAllen, who is also the current President of the Council. We were joined by other professionals from the ag lending sector.
Paul and I led discussion on some of the financial tools available to ag producers. And, although our list and summary of functions was far from complete, we also touched on some of the major accounting software programs that are out there, as well as up-and-coming data management companies. There are so many options these days!
One message WE got from the audience is simply this — Producers are hungry for information, especially with the downturn in commodity prices. Farmers and ranchers everywhere are scrambling to get their houses in order, something we all should have been doing long ago, when prices were strong.
Financial management for ag producers is made so much more complicated (and important) by the shear length of production cycles. It is like trying to navigate a huge cruise ship versus a speedboat….it can take years, rather than months to change directions. We stressed the point that making maximum use of the tools that are out there, as well as sound consulting services, can help producers develop management information systems that will allow them to make logical, non-emotional management decisions.
Maybe that hunger is the driving force behind the record attendance. Maybe. But I would venture to guess that next year’s Ag Finance Boot Camp will boast even more hungry learners than this year’s.
Brenda Duckworth is a Certified Public Accountant with K•Coe Isom and has her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University. She has specialized in management accounting for agricultural producers for over ten years