Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farm Finance

Harris Ranch, Near Soda Springs, Jake Putnam photo

Jan. 13, 14 Farm Business Management Schools Offer Growers Risk Management Skills

By Bill Loftus
Moscow--The volatility of crop prices and fuel, fertilizer and other costs growers face is a major focus of Farm Business Management Schools planned Jan. 13 at Lewiston and Jan. 14 in Idaho Falls sponsored by University of Idaho Extension, Idaho Barley Commission and Western Center for Risk Management.

Jan. 9 is the registration deadline for the schools, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at each location. Registration is limited because participants will test risk management software during the sessions in computer labs with limited seating.Those who want to register or obtain more information may contact Kelly Olson, Idaho Barley Commission administrator at Boise, at (208) 334-2090 or by email at kolson@idahobarley.org, or by calling local University of Idaho coordinators. Registration is $15 and includes lunch.

“The environment in agriculture has changed so much over the last couple of years, and now is a particularly risky time for farmers,” said Ken Hart, University of Idaho Extension educator in Lewis and Idaho counties and Lewiston session coordinator.

“We’re trying to give them more risk management skills and information about the kinds of markets they may face in the future and give them some tools to deal with them,” Hart added.

For Extension agricultural economics specialist Paul Patterson of Idaho Falls, growers know they have to find ways to manage the risks posed by the volatility of commodity prices and production costs.

“The need for growers to focus more on risk management in their operations certainly has been proven out in the last couple of years both on the market side and the cost side of things. Growers have really been hammered between the two,” said Patterson.
In addition to University of Idaho and Idaho Barley Commission presenters, agricultural economists from Colorado State and Washington State Universities will also teach during the sessions.Access to the computer labs will give growers the ability to work on some of the questions they’re facing with software that helps assess risk with different scenarios.

“There’s certainly a need for growers to access some of these resources that may help them better come up with their own to the answers to the questions they may have,” Patterson said.

One of the most common questions he’s fielded in recent years has focused on equitable land lease terms, Patterson said.“I’ve probably had more questions about leases in the last couple of years than the past 15 years. It’s because of the volatility of grain markets, the high cost of land, and how to come up with an equitable lease that protects both the landlord and the tenant,” Patterson said.

The Jan. 13 Lewiston session will be held at Lewis-Clark State College’s Workforce Training Building at 1920 3rd Ave. North. The Jan. 14 Idaho Falls session will be held at the Center for Higher Education Classroom, University Place, 1770 Science Center Dr.

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