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NMSU/Penn State finance workshop designed for young, beginning dairy producers

CLOVIS - Having an understanding of sound financial management is critical for managers of any business, including dairy farms. Young and beginning dairy producers will learn best practices in business and information management at the Finance 101 for Young and Beginning Producers workshop scheduled at sites across New Mexico.


New Mexico State University Dairy Extension, in collaboration with the Penn State Dairy Alliance, will present the program Tuesday, Dec. 11, at four locations in New Mexico. The New Mexico sites will link, via videoconferencing technology, with three sites in Pennsylvania to enhance networking opportunities between young and beginning dairy producers in the East and West.

New Mexico sites are: Clovis Community College, Clovis; Chaves County Extension Office, Roswell; Bernalillo County Extension Office, Albuquerque; and Gerald Thomas Hall at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. Hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"The workshop gave me a different point of view, and really opened my mind up to some new ideas," said Andrew Hendershot, who attended the program last spring. Andrew works on the family dairy, Hendershot Farms, in Warfordsburg, Pa. "I think the workshop really made me wiser about money issues on the dairy. It helped me understand how finances work behind-the-scenes of production."

The workshop is divided into two parts. During the basic training portion, participants will learn basic financial concepts and the characteristics of a good accounting system, including how to make improvements utilizing a standardized chart of accounts. Instructors will also explain how to be profitable, maintain adequate cash flow, and build equity. Tools for effectively communicating with your lender also will be explored.

"This workshop provides participants with a comprehensive overview of the factors that impact profitability and the financial records of a dairy business. We also teach producers how to evaluate business performance using those records," said Brad Hilty, who developed the workshop. "We discuss key performance indicators, and some good benchmarks all dairy producers should aim for will be explored. Participants will have an opportunity to individualize the material to their own operation by calculating some indicators for their dairies using their records."

Micah Meyers Jr., of Meyersland Dairy, Greencastle, Pa., found the benchmarks shared at last year's workshop particularly useful. "My dad has always taken care of the financial end of things, but the workshop helped me to realize the importance of good cash flow," he said. "We're going to expand the operation in four or five years, and the training gave me some ideas about how we can make the expansion run smoother, financially."

Jeremy Martin, who has been operating his own dairy in Mercersburg, Pa., for eight years, developed a better understanding of his operation's bottom line, thanks to the workshop. "I now have a better idea of what cost of production really is, and what it means on my dairy," Martin said.

Instructors for the workshop are Brad Hilty, information management specialist at Penn State Dairy Alliance, and Mike Hosterman, dairy lending specialist, AgChoice Farm Credit. Robert Hagevoort, Dairy Extension Specialist at New Mexico State University, is leading the effort in New Mexico.

Other collaborators include the Pennsylvania Center for Dairy Excellence and Penn State Cooperative Extension dairy educators. Pennsylvania sponsors are AgChoice Farm Credit, Lancaster Dairy Farm Automation, and MidAtlantic Farm Credit.

The registration fee for the New Mexico sites is $85 per person. Advance registration is required by calling the Ag Science Center in Clovis at (575) 985-2292. The fee includes all program materials and lunch.

NMSU's participation is an example of the university's ongoing outreach efforts to help educate and improve the lives of people around New Mexico and the region.