More in Issues

  • Nov 4, 2014
    blog

    Formal education in agriculture doesn't mean success

    Too often young people attend a university for the degree rather than the education, which can be a waste of money and time. As a professor, I am not disputing the value of an education; however, some of the most motivated lifelong learners are outside a degree program and they often make very successful entrepreneurs....More
  • Oct 30, 2014
    blog

    More farmland in Africa?

    Corn and soybean farmers will face more price pressure once 247,100 square miles of productive African land enters production, according to a Wall Street Journal report....More
  • Oct 28, 2014
    blog

    Price increases could impact crop insurance payments for 2014

    Even with projected record U.S. production of both corn and soybeans in 2014, the market prices of both crops have risen during the month of October. While the recent improvement in grain prices is generally good news to crop producers, it could be costly to farm operators that will likely qualify for 2014 crop insurance indemnity payments....More
  • Oct 28, 2014
    blog

    Tips for farmer-lender meetings, communication

    Recently, a farmer asked a panel I was a member of, “How often should farmers and lenders communicate during the year, particularly during the planning season?” The panel recommended having a meeting during planning season followed by a quarterly or semi-annual assessment, along with a year-end evaluation, which is imperative to determine financial success....More
  • Oct 21, 2014
    blog

    Financial measure of efficiency for farm businesses 1

    In many of my speeches I emphasize that better is better before bigger is better; that is, get efficient before you embark on growth. What is a good financial measure of efficiency for farm businesses? One of my favorites is the operating expense to revenue ratio....More
  • Oct 14, 2014
    blog

    What's the coverage ratio for your farm? 1

    One of the key financial ratios that agricultural lenders use to determine repayment ability is the term debt and lease coverage ratio. It measures the amount of debt obligations (debt service which includes principal and interest), compared to the debt servicing capacity (net income plus interest and depreciation)....More
  • Oct 7, 2014
    blog

    Slipping farm profitability

    After stellar financial performance from a net farm income standpoint from 2009 to 2012, median net incomes are moving back to levels observed in the period between 2003 and 2008. In that era, median net farm income for the average group was typically in the $40,000 to $60,000 range....More
  • Oct 2, 2014
    blog

    Farmland movie on Hulu! 3

    I could not be more excited to get the news that the Farmland movie is on Hulu and Hulu Plus! I saw a pre-screen of the film in February at Commodity Classic, and the film was released to a limited screening in theaters in April and May. If you didn't have the chance to see it then, watch it now. Like right now. Stop what you're doing, and watch this incredible film....More
  • Sep 30, 2014
    blog

    Got the racecar, but don’t know how to drive It

    How often do we see, particularly in family business transition, a situation in which the younger generation returns to a business that has been a profitable high performer for the previous generation, but it continuously fails to “finish the race” or underperforms compared to peers when the younger generation steps into the driver’s seat?...More
  • Sep 23, 2014
    blog

    2014 Crop insurance payments likely (in Minnesota) 1

    The continued low CBOT corn and soybean prices increases the likelihood of significant 2014 crop insurance indemnity payments for many Minnesota farm operators that have 80% and 85% RP insurance policies in place. Crop insurance payments may not be as widespread in states such as Iowa and Illinois, which are likely to have much higher 2014 corn and soybean yield levels than will exist in much of Minnesota....More
  • Sep 23, 2014
    blog

    The power of inflation: Time is not on your side! 2

    As you think about retirement, keep in mind how inflation can impact your investment strategies. At a 4% historical long-term inflation rate, $50,000 becomes $25,000 in buying power by the year 2032 (72 / 4 = 18 years). As a goal, one should aspire to generate a return on your investments including dividends and appreciation that meets or exceeds the rate of inflation to maintain buying power....More
  • Sep 16, 2014
    blog

    Biggest threats to young, beginning farmers 1

    The saga of the young farmer and rancher continues as transition in the agriculture industry is in full bloom. While there is no surefire way to get started, there are some common threats, whether starting from scratch or entering a family business. Let’s examine some of the threats and pitfalls that frequently arise....More
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