The economic turmoil in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has left many small farm operators asking difficult questions about managing their finances.
“Farm margins have always been tight, and now a lot of things are moving, even more than usual,” said Courtney Bir, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and an Oklahoma State University Extension specialist. “Making decisions when you have no idea what is happening is difficult.”
OSU has several resources and events that can help. For example, Bir and other economics and finance experts will be featured at the upcoming Women in Agriculture and Small Business Conference, scheduled for Aug. 5-6 in Oklahoma City. The annual event, which could not be held last year due to the pandemic, offers four programming paths that focus on agricultural production, alternative ventures, business and finance, and the interests of novice farmers. An example of topics includes:
• Understanding cottage laws and on-site processing, led by Erin Johnson, Business/Marketing Customer Coordinator at OSU Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center.
• Making Smart Money Decisions, by Janna Walker, CPA.
• Tax considerations during the COVID-19 financial flow, by JC Hobbs, OSU Extension tax education and farm management specialist.
• Grants and loans, by Travis Jones at the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service and Sara Diamond at SDiamondS Consulting.
• Navigating Financial Troubles in a Diversified Farming Operation, by Chad Ward, CPA, with Ward Family Farms.
“There are a few opportunities where people can get help managing their farm finances, which is especially important during these uncertain times,” said Sonya McDaniel, conference event organizer, director of Pottawatomie County Extension. Conference registration is available online at https://bit.ly/3hzD6hZ.
OSU Extension’s other financial and agribusiness resources include:
• Farm financial planning assistance—Expertise in financial planning, including balance sheets and other financial statements.
• Master Cattleman Program—This program focuses on beef production, business planning, record keeping, risk management and marketing.
• Luncheon and Learning Webinars: This monthly series of short presentations has covered a wide variety of topics, such as leasing grassland, managing commodity price fluctuations, and federal pandemic payment plans. Each session is recorded for later review.
“One of the best ways to be prepared is to know your financial status, costs and budgets. That knowledge is invaluable for good financial health,” says Bir.