The economic turmoil in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has left a lot of small agricultural business operators asking difficult questions about managing their finances.
“Farm business margins have always been tight, and now there are a lot of things in flux, even more than usual,” said Courtney Bir, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Oklahoma State University Extension specialist. “Making decisions when you don’t have a sense of what’s happening is difficult.”
OSU has several resources and events that may help. For example, Bir and other economy and finance experts will be featured in the upcoming Women in Agriculture and Small Business Conference, scheduled Aug. 5 to 6 in Oklahoma City. The annual event, which could not be held last year because of the pandemic, will offer four programing tracks highlighting agricultural production, alternative enterprises, business and finance, and beginning farmer interests. A sample of topics includes:
• Understanding cottage laws and on-site processing, led by Erin Johnson, business/marketing client coordinator with the OSU Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center.
• Making smart money decisions, by Janna Walker, CPA.
• Tax considerations during the COVID-19 financial flux, by J.C. Hobbs, OSU Extension tax education and farm management specialist.
• Grant and loan resources, by Travis Jones with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service and Sara Diamond with SDiamondS Consulting.
• Navigating financial issues in a diversified agricultural 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 conference event organizer Sonya McDaniel, Pottawatomie County Extension director. Conference registration is available online at https://bit.ly/3hzD6hZ.
Other finance and agribusiness resources from OSU Extension include:
• Farm financial planning assistance—Expertise on financial planning, including balance sheets and other financial statements.
• Master Cattleman Program—This program addresses beef production, its business planning, record-keeping, risk management and marketing.
• Lunch and Learn webinars—This monthly series of short presentations has covered a wide range of issues such as leasing pasture, managing commodity price fluctuations and federal pandemic relief payment plans. Each session is recorded for viewing later.
“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,” Bir said.