Skip to main content
Close

AccountAccess is now Digital Banking. Re-register today! Learn More >

 

News

Ep. 51 OSU Extension Programs

 

 

In this episode of AgCredit Said It, host Matt Adams chats with Bruce Clevenger and Eric Richer to discuss various programs and workshops offered by the Ohio State University Extension to support farmers in areas such as farm record keeping, farm management, grain marketing, and farm transition planning. They highlight the Farm On Farm Financial Management course, which is a self-paced online course designed for both seasoned and beginning farmers to improve their financial literacy and meet the requirements for the beginning farmer tax credit and USDA Farm Service Agency loans. They also discuss the Basics of Grain Marketing workshop, which provides farmers with a deep dive into grain marketing strategies and includes expert instructors and a panel of trading professionals. Additionally, they mention the Ohio State Organic Grains Conference and the farm transition planning workshops and webinars that address the important topic of transferring farm assets and navigating family dynamics. They emphasize the importance of these programs in supporting the success and sustainability of farm operations and encourage farmers to take advantage of the resources available to them.

 

Show Notes

Resources mentioned in this episode:

 

Connect with AgCredit on Facebook, X and Instagram

 

Share questions and topic ideas with us:

Email podcast@agcredit.net

Embed Code

<iframe title="Embed Player" src="https://play.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/29056933/height/192/theme/modern/size/large/thumbnail/yes/custom-color/43b02a/time-start/00:00:00/hide-playlist/yes/download/yes/font-color/FFFFFF" height="192" width="100%" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="" webkitallowfullscreen="true" mozallowfullscreen="true" oallowfullscreen="true" msallowfullscreen="true" style="border: none;"></iframe>

Show Notes

Blog Title - Ep. 51: Three Educational Farm Programs to Take Advantage of in 2024 

 

There’s a wide range of programs and workshops offered by the Ohio State University Extension to support farmers in various aspects of their operations. Are you taking advantage of these programs? You should be! Now is the perfect time to enroll in a course, attend a workshop, or participate in a webinar.

 

Covering topics like farm record keeping, farm management, grain marketing, and farm transition planning, OSU Extension is taking a comprehensive approach to address the needs of both seasoned and beginning farmers with programs that offer in-depth learning and expert instructors. 

 

Eric Richer and Bruce Clevenger, both with OSU Extension, joined host Matt Adams on a recent AgCredit Said It podcast episode to talk more about these programs and what sets them apart from others. 

 

Here are three educational farm programs to take advantage of in 2024:

 

Farm Financial Management Course

Developed by a teaching team of eight extension professionals, including Bruce and Eric, the Farm On Farm Financial Management course supports farmers through the complexities of farm finances in a self-paced online environment. 

 

Emphasizing the importance of financial literacy for farm operations, Eric notes that the program is available for both experienced and new farmers, adding that it’s particularly beneficial to those who might feel like they excel in the day-to-day operations but lack experience in financial record-keeping. 

 

“It’s a course that we feel has a place for a seasoned farmer, but certainly that beginning or new farmer who maybe has followed dad or grandpa around for a while,” explains Eric. “But maybe hasn’t been given an opportunity to do records or have their feet held to the fire with regard to finances.”

 

The course structure, presented through Ohio State’s Scarlet Canvas platform, is comprised of ten modules, covering various financial topics crucial for successful farm management. From farm business planning and goal setting to key financial statements, the course breaks down complex topics like balance sheets and income statements into what Bruce refers to as digestible sections. 

 

Eric adds that the course also includes practical hands-on elements. “We’re in a time where cashflow is an important piece of the financial puzzle. We have participants go through their own cashflow projections and calculate their own cost of production. Vital concepts Eric says beginning farmers need to understand for effective farm management.

 

Delving into the legislative incentives tied to the Farm On program, Eric explains the relevance of House Bill 95. According to Eric, this bill mandates that beginning farmers take a financial management course and offers Ohio tax credits to those who complete it. Eric emphasizes that the program is more than a financial incentive. “The Ohio House Bill 95 could be viewed as a ‘land access program’ for beginning farmers,” states Eric, making it necessary for the next generation of farmers. 

 

The Farm On course also aligns with USDA FSA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Loans, providing participants with a certification that aids in accessing these loans. 

 

With support from partners like the Ohio Corn & Wheat Checkoff Boards to offset costs, the fee for the course is $300 and can be enrolled in at any time. 

 

Grain Marketing Workshop

For farmers seeking to enhance their grain marketing knowledge, OSU Extension is offering an in-person, two-day workshop on the Basics of Grain Marketing on February 8th and 9th, 2024. 

 

Bruce shared the workshop’s intent, explaining, “This is a workshop that’s designed so that there is no prerequisite required to come in and learn from the group what the basics of grain marketing are.” Recognizing the complexity and often intimidating nature of grain marketing, the workshop aims to create a comfortable and safe space for farmers to understand and navigate the fundamentals.

 

The workshop is tailored to all ages and experience levels, ensuring beginning to seasoned farmers can benefit from the content. A highlight of the workshop will be understanding industry terminology. Bruce shares, “Sometimes producers of all ages and all experiences need to sift through the lingo to really determine, ‘What is that telling me to do?’”

 

In addition to expert instructors, the workshop will have practical elements for attendees. “We’re also going to do a pre-workshop risk assessment,” says Bruce. “The other component that we’re putting together is a panelist of trading professionals. We’re going to have one merchandiser, a consulting advisor, and then also an end-user buyer of grain.” Beyond the workshop, attendees will become part of a peer group where they can share their successes, mistakes, and insights. 

 

Transition Planning Webinar

The importance of planning for the future of your farm is critical, and farm transition planning can often be a sensitive topic. But despite the challenges and emotional weight associated with transition planning, a shared goal is often clear – a continuation to the next generation – and a workshop series being provided by OSU Extension offers guidance in navigating this intricate process. 

 

The workshop series is set to take place on Monday evenings, starting February 5th, 2024, and has an exciting addition for this year. Eric shares, “I think one of the neat things they’re doing this year is offering a webinar portion so that out-of-state heirs can listen in on some of the critical conversations or conversation starters that need to be had with mom, dad, or whomever.” 

 

BONUS: AgCredit’s Winter Webinar Series

AgCredit is hosting a series of three webinars in January and February focusing on the success of your farm. Topics include year-end financials and succession planning. To learn more and join us at our 2024 webinar series, visit agcredit.net/webinar.

 

Here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [00:48] Bruce Clevenger introduces himself and his background in extension. 

  • [02:40] Eric Richer introduces himself and his background in extension. 

  • [04:27] Both instrumental in putting together a farm financials management course for beginning farmers, Bruce and Eric chat about the “Farm On” program and what makes it unique. 

  • [06:33] Eric and Bruce share some of the topics covered in the course modules and what the certification process looks like. 

  • [11:43] Eric explains how the Farm On program goes hand-in-hand with Ohio’s House Bill 95, which gives a tax credit to beginning farmers who have completed the course. 

  • [15:33] Eric also explains how the program aligns with joint USDA and FSA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Loans. 

  • [18:37] Discussing other upcoming programs, Bruce rolls out an upcoming two-day workshop on the basics of grain marketing. 

  • [21:46] Bruce shares more details about the format of the grain marketing workshop, including the expert panelists that will be in attendance. 

  • [28:19] Eric introduces the return of the Ohio State Organic Grains Conference in 2024, spurring a conversation on increasing organic crop acres in Ohio.

  • [31:18] Lastly, Bruce offers an upcoming webinar about farm transition planning.   

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

 

Share questions and topic ideas with us:

Email podcast@agcredit.net

Transcription

Voiceover (00:08):

Welcome to AgCredit Said It. In each episode, our hosts sit down with experts from all parts of the agriculture industry to bring you insights and must-have information on all things from farming to finances, and everything in between.

 

Matt Adams (00:27):

Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of AgCredit Said It. This is Matt Adams hosting today with a great topic for ag producers, young and old. I have two of our friends from the OSU extension with me today: Bruce Clevenger, associate professor and field specialist, and Eric Richer, assistant professor and field specialist. How are we doing, guys?

 

Eric Richer (00:46):

Doing great, thanks.

 

Bruce Clevenger (00:47):

Yeah, thanks. Great.

 

Matt Adams (00:48):

So both of our guests both have extensive experience with farm record keeping and farm management programs at the Ohio State University. But beyond that, why don't you guys tell everyone a little bit about your current roles with extension and a little bit of background for you guys.

 

Bruce Clevenger (01:04):

Sure, I'll start. Appreciate being here on the podcast. This is Bruce Clevenger. I spent 28 years in a Defiance County extension office, and really enjoyed that part of my extension career. County extension office is an exciting place to work. There are a lot of questions and programs that get done in a county extension office. And worked in farm management throughout my career there in the county office, worked in agronomy as well.

 

(01:29):

But farm management was always an area that it was fun to work in. And OSU extension had an opportunity to fill a couple positions that provide a statewide reach as field specialists in the area of farm management. And so November 1st, 2022, three of us joined the ranks of field specialists for OSU extension, and began to really focus and specialize more in that area. And I keep telling people, our management is just as diverse as agronomy or animal sciences. And so, there's a lot of work to be done in farm management. And it's really been fun for the year that we've been at it, and there's a lot of great things coming up.

 

Matt Adams (02:07):

So with this role you're at too, even though taking yourself away from the county level and the extension where you got to really be hands-on with the producers, even with this, you're now even more of a statewide, you get to work with producers statewide, not just at the county level.

 

Bruce Clevenger (02:21):

Our role is to support county extension programs and operations, and support our county educators to learn more about farm management. And incorporate that farm management education into their winter meetings, and summer meetings. It's a great space to work in.

 

Matt Adams (02:36):

So Eric, why don't you go ahead and tell us a little about your experience and some of your background, sir.

 

Eric Richer (02:40):

Matt, thanks for the invite to the podcast here. You're listening to Eric Richer. As you said, Field Specialist and Farm Management with OSU. My start date with regard to the field specialist position was the same as Bruce's. It was about a year ago, November 1st of '22. Prior to that, I had worked as a county extension educator in Fulton County for just a little over 10 years, not quite as long as Bruce. But a lot of things I've learned from Bruce, and so I appreciate that relationship.

 

(03:12):

In the county, had the opportunity similar to Bruce, very blessed experience to work closely with producers, both on agronomic and farm management type topics. Prior to coming to Extension, in 2012, I was an ag teacher in a local, well, of Wauseon High School. And always taught records to high school students. And so, would like to say that working with beginning farmers and ranchers and working with farm records and record keeping started a while back.

 

Matt Adams (03:45):

And that's, I think, one thing we see at AgCredit too, where we pride ourselves with our beginning farmers and our industry, is starting the record keeping. That's probably one of the biggest things. You start that out as accurately and as up-to-date as you can, because it's amazing what good records you can learn from an operation and the pluses and minuses. So, that's a great trait to learn as soon as any producer can.

 

Eric Richer (04:17):

Yeah. And those numbers get more and more real, the older you get. Right?

 

Matt Adams (04:20):

Yes. 

 

Eric Richer (04:21):

But even starting with a small 4-H project or FFA project is-

 

Matt Adams (04:26):

Exactly.

 

Eric Richer (04:26):

... a starting point.

 

Matt Adams (04:27):

And in our industry today, we look at our prices and the volatility and the fluctuations, the cents matter now, so to be as accurate as we can. Well guys, we'll start off on some questions here. I know back in the spring, both of you gentlemen were instrumental in putting together the new Farm On: Farm Financial Management course. Can you tell me about the course and how it can help our new and beginning Farmers?

 

Eric Richer (04:56):

We have. I'll field that question, Matt. And you're right. The Farm On Financial Management course was put together with really a teaching team of eight extension professionals, Bruce and myself, and six other colleagues that worked on putting some modules together. One of the unique things about the Farm On course is that it's self-paced, it's on demand. It's a course that we feel has a place for a seasoned farmer, but certainly that beginning or new farmer who maybe has followed dad or grandpa around for a while. And does just a great job in the shop or operating, but maybe hasn't been given an opportunity to do those records like we were talking about or have their feet held to the fire with regard to finances.

 

Matt Adams (05:45):

Was this something that you guys just seen from the experience at your extension county level? Or how long has this been something in the making that we've seen a need for for this?

 

Bruce Clevenger (05:57):

Well, Eric, I think it got some traction, once we filled some positions in farm management, had a team of leaders that could focus in on financial literacy for farm operations. And I think it got started and was really supported with some legislation that took some action and is there to support some new and beginning farmers.

 

Eric Richer (06:21):

And I think it's always been a need, right? It's always been something that's out there refining those skills. And so, it's us being able to build some capacity and extension, and then some other carrots that were out there too.

 

Matt Adams (06:33):

So guys, what are some of the specific topics that get covered in the Farm On Farm financial Management course? And how is the course set up?

 

Eric Richer (06:43):

So, the course is set up for an individual farmer, beginning farmer pace for the course. And the course is provided through Ohio State's Scarlet Canvas course, so you actually kind of feel like an Ohio State student, pay for a course, you get the certification at the end. And it's set up kind of sequentially with 10 modules. And it starts off with farm business planning, some goal setting, some mission statement stuff. And then the next three modules have to do with the key financial statements. The second module's on balance sheets and third module Bruce worked on.

 

Bruce Clevenger (07:21):

Yep. So we get right into income statements, and we use these words like accrual, adjusted income statements to calculate net farm income from operations and then the net farm income. I mean accrual, the word itself usually scares people away.

 

Matt Adams (07:37):

Right, right.

 

Bruce Clevenger (07:37):

I mean it has the word cruel inside the word accrual. So, we try to desensitize people to really take that apart and understand why we want an accrual adjusted income statement to calculate that net farm income.

 

Matt Adams (07:55):

And all of our listeners out there, just so you know that all of us at AgCredit, we're not crazy when we bring up these terms. These are terms that's industry use, so it is great to have this. Like we talked before, with this course and with this information, it helps you be a better farm manager, and also helps you work with your lender to find that best scenario for your farm. You know exactly where you stand, you're not guessing. And in today's agriculture, it's one of those things where we need to be planning ahead, especially when we look at long-term forecasting, that we want to have a plan in place.

 

Bruce Clevenger (08:32):

And these are not three-hour modules on income statements. These are digestible, they're very simple. And the time frame in which they're teaching that content, I think Eric does a great job of cashflow and calculating cost of production, a couple more modules that we have in the course.

 

Eric Richer (08:50):

And you talk about looking ahead and having producers look ahead. We're in a time where cashflow is going to be a pretty important piece of the financial puzzle. And so, we have participants go through a cashflow projection example and their own example, and calculate their own cost of production, which is... We say we do those things, but to actually kind of, I'll say, be forced to do those through a module or through a course, I think can be healthy for some of our young farmers.

 

Matt Adams (09:20):

Oh, yeah. Young farmers, and like we even talked before, even some of our long-term, seasoned operations out there. By having that next generation that's getting up to speed on this and maybe finding some different ways of doing stuff, it's going to help the older generation of the farmer like, "Hey, we can be a little bit more diligent on our bookkeeping here and put ourselves in a different position."

 

Bruce Clevenger (09:43):

Yeah. And speaking of record keeping, that's another one of the modules. And the approach I tried to take in the module was for producers to consider record keeping, doing more than just a tax return. Because I've stated it multiple times that the IRS Schedule F standalone document is the worst financial statement that-

 

Eric Richer (10:05):

Prepare yourself.

 

Bruce Clevenger (10:06):

... a farmer could use to make decisions on. Now, it contains some very critical information, all the cash flows in and out for the farm, very important information for the IRS purpose. But the IRS really doesn't care about the success honestly, of the individual farm. They want that tax return and information for the purposes of income tax, federal and state. So if we can encourage our producers, the course participants, to do more than a tax return, that's a great outcome. And then taxes of course, is another module that an entry level appreciation for what farm taxes are and maybe how to really navigate a Schedule F and to do it effectively and accurately and appropriately. And at the end of the modules, there's often a homework assignment, which Eric gets to grade and keep our students accountable.

 

Matt Adams (11:02):

That is great.

 

Eric Richer (11:03):

Yep. Every assignment or every module has some sort of component that gets turned back in. Yeah.

 

Matt Adams (11:09):

And that's some great stuff, guys. And we started talking about this record keeping, it's a lot of things we do on our end too, as the lender for our young producers. And when we talk about that Schedule F and my credit analyst friends at AgCredit would agree with you a hundred percent, that schedule F is a great snapshot…But when we really dig into the accrual earnings and really see, it paints the history, paints the year in review on the farm. We can see where everything went. So, that is great stuff there.

 

(11:43):

So Eric, Bruce, you guys both said part of this program coming into play here was some legislator that came out of the state level. So House Bill 95, the beginning tax farm credit, what implications does completing this course have for the producer?

 

Eric Richer (12:07):

So back a little bit earlier in the podcast, Bruce talked a little bit about a legislative kind of incentive. I'm not sure if that's how you framed it, Bruce, or not, but House Bill 95 was that incentive that kind of helped us along with our capacity, new capacity launch this Farm On financial management course. As a part of House Bill 95 brought to the legislator by Mary Lightbody and Susan Manchester, that was approved last summer. And as a part of that, the beginning farmer is required to take a beginning farmer financial management course. There's more than the OSU course out there and available for folks to take. We feel like it's put together pretty well and it is convenient for farmers to take the course at their convenience. That's the one side of House Bill 95. The beginning farmer gets an Ohio tax credit for the cost of the course.

 

Matt Adams (13:04):

Okay.

 

Eric Richer (13:05):

Which our course costs $300 and we're somewhere in the middle. But that can be carried forward three years, but it's never refundable. On the flip side, the asset owner, this is with regard to House Bill 95, the asset owner gets a 3.99% tax credit, Ohio tax credit for any assets that they lease or sell to a certified beginning farmer.

 

Matt Adams (13:34):

To the certified beginning farmer. Okay.

 

Eric Richer (13:36):

That's perhaps the bigger carrot, but I couldn't describe this program as a land access program. Before we started recording, we talked about access or land cost and land access. And perhaps this Ohio House Bill 95 program could be called a land access program for beginning farmers. And the Farm On Financial Management course is the one financial piece required of the beginning farmer.

 

(14:04):

Now, as we went through our modules, you didn't hear us talking at all about agronomy or livestock husbandry or anything like that. So this is very much, and the legislature has recognized this, is that we need young and beginning producers to have a good handle on their farm finances. And that was the impetus for the program.

 

Matt Adams (14:22):

And I think that's one thing to keep in mind. All of our listeners too, the state of Ohio. And I hope that there's other listeners listening, just not to our great state. But it really says a lot for our OSU extension and our state to be putting programs like this out. It's showing that agriculture is our number one industry in Ohio, and that we're trying to just... that sustainability and bringing that next generation, making it a little more cost-effective for them. Because we talked earlier before our podcast started, when we talk about the average age of our producers now and where we are at in the industry. There's a gap and we need young guys to keep moving in and work in these operations. And it gets tougher and tougher every year.

 

(15:05):

And we see it on our side, as a premier lender for our young farmers, that it's tough to get going. So, any little bit that we can do. And I think that's just... what you guys are doing and backing up our young producers, it's something. I'm sure other states may have it, but I may be a little biased, but I think that our state and what you guys do, we are probably top of the game on this.

 

Eric Richer (15:30):

We will accept your bias.

 

Matt Adams (15:33):

So all right, so we'll go to the next question here. This program aligns with the USDA Farm Service Agency's Beginning Farmer and Rancher Loans, which AgCredit participates in with their joint financing programs. And I will say when I became a lender for our association, this is a great program, something we work very close with our USDA FSA offices. We have helped so many producers, young producers get their foot in the door, get started with this program. So with this program, how does this course fit into something like that?

 

Eric Richer (16:10):

So another good question, and we knew this, as we were putting this course together, that Ohio or Ohio State did not have a course that met the farm financial course requirement that was necessary for the FSA direct down payment loan program, as a part of the beginning Farmer Rancher Loan program at USDA. And so we made the proposal, we put a package together to propose to Ohio FSA. They approved our course at the same time that Ohio Department of Agriculture approved the course for the beginning farmer tax credit program.

 

(16:42):

And so when we were putting together with the teaching team, what a better package than to say, Hey, this qualifies... the beginning farmer can get the tax credit and also, it kind of gets them this certificate or stamp of approval to move forward with the FSA direct down payment loan program. And I acknowledge that that sometimes is in after the fact. The financial course for FSA loans is kind of required afterwards. But-

 

Matt Adams (17:11):

Yes.

 

Eric Richer (17:12):

... it was just good timing I think, and worked out well for us.

 

Matt Adams (17:16):

Very good. So our next question here, guys, with our financial management course, is there a cost to this program?

 

Eric Richer (17:23):

So, there is a cost. The Farm On course costs $300. And that's again, hosted on our Scarlet Canvas platform, which allows us to basically allow farmers to feel like OSU students and pay for tuition, so to speak. If we were to put that course together, we put some numbers together that are significantly more than that. And so, we're really grateful to one of our partners that have partnered with us, Ohio Corn and Wheat Checkoff Boards that provided some offsetting dollars to support the Farm On Financial Management course. We're just extremely grateful. We know there are lots of corn and wheat farmers in the state. They are perhaps members of that association and pay into the checkoff. And so that has helped to offset the cost of this program to that $300 level. Now when they apply, that's the tax credit value that they'll get.

 

Matt Adams (18:21):

Gotcha. And then our producers, when they're interested in learning more about this and to sign up, where do they go to do this?

 

Eric Richer (18:30):

So, the easiest website that we have referred folks to is go.osu.edu/farmon.

 

Matt Adams (18:37):

Perfect. And guys, we will put this on our show notes and links to this website. So the Farm On, I think we could make multiple recordings about this, there's just so much great information here. But I know you guys do a lot more than just the Farm On program, so that's just one of the many programs. What else do you guys have coming up through the winter months for our producers?

 

Bruce Clevenger (19:13):

Well, one thing, Matt, we're really excited about, is a rollout of an in-person, two-day workshop on the basics of grain marketing. This is a workshop that's designed that there is no prerequisite required to come in and learn really from the ground up, what is the basics of grain marketing. I think in the industry we hear a lot of terms and terminology and lingo associated with grain marketing. Sometimes producers of all ages and all experiences, sometimes need to sift through the lingo and really determine, what is that telling me to do? What might the market be telling me or signaling me to do today or next month? And what are those steps that I really need to take? Because if there are price point opportunities out there and I'm not understanding that lingo or know what the strategy is to take advantage of that, I might've missed out on some opportunities for profitability.

 

Matt Adams (20:16):

Definitely. And I think that's one thing I see with our younger producers, especially is… Grain marketing always seems to be, when we talk, say, "Hey, do you have any resources where we can get some information?" There's so much information out there and so much that gets put on these guys' plate that, what do I need? What's the information I need to be listening to? And so this program is basically, we are starting at the basics and working up from there.

 

Bruce Clevenger (20:41):

I think grain marketing can be very intimidating. So if we are sitting in a room, am I really going to be comfortable about raising my hand amongst my neighbors who maybe there's a little competition for that next landlord or the next, you name it? The competition in the rural community in farming sometimes can be intimidating. And so this is maybe a safe place, a basic in grain marketing workshop that's being developed really with a top class of instructors.

 

(21:14):

We're bringing in three of the best that we could find from the Midwest to teach this in-person workshop. This in-person workshop is going to be held February 8th and 9th, 2024. It's going to be hosted at the OSU Extension Office in Union County. And our expert instructors, we have one from Ohio State University, one from the University of Missouri, and then one from a University in Kentucky. And so from Ohio State, we have Dr. Seungki Lee. He's our OSU Grain Marketing and Outlook expert.

 

Matt Adams (21:46):

Yes. I've listened him multiple times, just a very good amount of information he can give you.

 

Bruce Clevenger (21:51):

So, Seungki is one of our expert instructors. Also bringing in from the University of Missouri, Ben Brown, who's had some time at Ohio State as well. Well respected across the Midwest for his expertise in grain marketing and strategies. We also have Grant Gardner, University of Kentucky. And so essentially, a counterpart to Seungki and Ben as an agricultural economist focusing in on grain marketing. These three experts are going to help the participants, the students of this workshop, the producers navigate two days of this workshop. These are day-long workshops that are going to be, it sounds like a deep dive, but it is for basics of grain marketing.

 

(22:33):

The other component that we're putting together is a panelist of trading professionals. And so we're going to have two merchandisers, actually one merchandiser, a consulting advisor, and then also an end user buyer of grain. So, I think we have all three avenues of the merchandising covered in this panel of experts that our students, our farmers... I want to call them students, but really it's not like an academic class. This is going to be a workshop geared to learn about the practices of grain marketing.

 

Matt Adams (23:10):

And I think that'll be a very interesting class just for one, getting to from the analyst point of view to the actual trader to your end user, just what they're looking for, what their trends are, and how that all can really mesh together to make a, always want to say a solid marketing plan, but is the way our grain markets are, the more information you can have, the better. But I think there again, we go back to that having a plan and having your baseline, knowing where to start, where so many of our young producers, do I haul it right in? As soon as I haul it in the elevator, do I just cash out right there and just hope for the best? Do I hold onto it? What do I do? And I think this is something that I hope you guys have to put on more classes 'cause I hope you get a lot of individuals wanting to do this.

 

Eric Richer (24:00):

We're really excited about, or the Farm Office Team is really excited about the program that Bruce has put together and the expert instructors that are coming. So, we're anxious to see what happens. Does it seem to fit some of the things that AgCredit clientele need?

 

Matt Adams (24:17):

I think so. And there again, we look at association-wide, which we cover a part of the state of Ohio. But when we look, I look at just not even our beginning producers, but producers in general. Grain marketing is just one of those things where when you think you know it, you realize you don't know it. It's kind of one of those always... One guy told me, he says, "Well, you don't know what you don't know." And that's how I kind of look at grain marketing because there's just so many different opportunities and ways to look at things that this is, you never want to say you need required classes for our farmers. But this would be one of those where you'd say, "I would think everybody would benefit from this because there's always something to gain on something like this."

 

Bruce Clevenger (25:04):

Well, we hope it's more than just a two-day workshop, and we're kind of building it that way. Because we're actually going to have a pre-workshop lesson that the enrollees will take. And this is going to be similar to the Farm On course where actually, we're going to have them go through a module on knowing their cost of production and measuring their own cost of production. And bringing that number with them to the workshop so that we don't have to take the time during the workshop to go through that calculation and they have that number in hand.

 

(25:38):

We're also going to do a pre-workshop risk assessment. So, the three of us might have a different level of willingness to take risk. And for each attendee of the workshop to know their own risk level, that's going to be a part of them determining what they feel most comfortable in a marketing plan and what that looks like. And then following the workshop, we're going to establish a peer group amongst these attendees.

 

Matt Adams (26:08):

That's great. Follow up and they can network and-

 

Bruce Clevenger (26:11):

Learn from each other.

 

Matt Adams (26:12):

Yes.

 

Bruce Clevenger (26:13):

Maybe I could admit my mistakes and my successes and that could help my colleagues who were maybe in the same cohort going through this grain marketing workshop.

 

Eric Richer (26:21):

It's a safe space.

 

Bruce Clevenger (26:22):

Yeah.

 

Matt Adams (26:24):

And I think that's something. We talk about these peer groups. I feel that's something that maybe we are lacking in today's agriculture, our industry where it seems like maybe we used to have it more, but with social media and everything, you're so vulnerable to everything. You don't have your coffee shop groups as much anymore, and everybody's so busy. But just to have that peer group just to bounce ideas off of and a little bit of support, I think that's something our industry truly needs to get back to and grow on.

 

Bruce Clevenger (26:53):

Well, and the nice thing about this workshop we feel, is going to be the size of the group. It's going to be limited. 35 seats are going to be open and available, and once that fills, well, then what do we do with the waiting list? Well, this is just not, again, a one-time workshop. This is a two-year plan with an online course development as part of this trajectory that OSU is on to fill some of the needs in grain marketing. We will definitely be repeating this Basics of Grain Marketing workshop in 2025.

 

(27:28):

But in the meantime, remember those expert instructors that we've gathered together? We're going to take their training information and have them develop with us, an online course where similar to Farm On, where it can be self-paced, accountability built in. And really provide some similar objectives in an online course that one would get from an in-person workshop.

 

(27:56):

So lots to come, we hope, in grain marketing. There's a lot of information out there. Where does a person get started and when? I can answer the when part, is now. Sooner than later, and we hope that what OSU extension is offering in a workshop like this is an option for folks to consider.

 

Matt Adams (28:19):

Very good. Any other programs or webinars or conferences that you guys have scheduled for the winter here months, while we're all thinking about 2024 crop and getting in the ground? And that's on everybody's mind. It seems like as soon as we start finishing up the harvest, we're already halfway planning through for the next spring. But what else we got on the docket for this winter, guys?

 

Eric Richer (28:42):

So in line with grains and grain marketing, is an event that I put together now. This is the second year. It'll be the 2024 Ohio State Organic Grains Conference. It's coming up perhaps the first event after the first of the year. It'll be on January 4th and 5th. And so, still has a huge element of grain marketing and farm management, but also some agronomy that's involved for some of our value-added producers who have kind of gone that direction of organic grain production. The state of Ohio has just over 80,000 acres of organic grain in production, and that's-

 

Matt Adams (29:21):

Really?

 

Eric Richer (29:22):

... really, if you looked at a pie graph, to be fair, that's less than 1% of the acres-

 

Matt Adams (29:27):

But-

 

Eric Richer (29:28):

... but it's still a chunk.

 

Matt Adams (29:29):

I did not know. Yeah.

 

Eric Richer (29:31):

So, it's kind of come out of a needs assessment that we've realized that we weren't addressing the needs of those producers. In January of 2023, we offered a conference here in northwest Ohio and got good response. And we'll be doing that again. We have some farmer panelists and some researchers and other personnel that have worked in that space, consultants that have worked in the organic grain space that'll be at Maumee Bay State Park, January 4th and 5th.

 

Matt Adams (29:59):

Very good. So on the organic grain side, have those acres, have they been increasing each year? Is that a growing trend in our state?

 

Eric Richer (30:08):

So in the state of Ohio, we are ranked fifth in the nation as the number of acres that are in transition. So we're behind California, New York, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in the number of acres that are in transition, according to the most recent NASS data. So I think that's fairly significant, but compared to commodity acres, it's still a very small slice. And so when you talk with those producers in a room, you, again, very good peer groups and very good person-to-person learning, that they're very willing to share what they're doing and markets that they have. And how they're working to increase their bottom line, albeit in a little bit different fashion than raising number two yellow corn.

 

Matt Adams (30:58):

Very good. So, we have a lot of good programs coming up this year with OSU. And I think there might be one more that I know we kind of talked about, guys. I think probably one of the big ones I'd say on all of our producer's minds. So, what do we got coming up for that?

 

Bruce Clevenger (31:18):

Planning for the future of your farm. This is that farm transition planning topic and very important, as you mentioned. Sometimes thought of being taboo to talk about, because often it refers to the transfer of assets, it refers to sometimes family members or business partners' deaths. And that's a tricky territory to navigate with, with errors and farm business partners. But just because it's difficult to talk about doesn't mean it's not so important for the success of that business to continue. And if that is in fact a goal, and how many of our producers say that, "We want the business to continue after I'm gone."? But yet if we're hesitant to make a plan, how smooth is that transition going to be?

 

(32:16):

So workshops that provide a structure of, how do we get our arms wrapped around this thing called farm transition planning, is really part of what extension has to offer. And so Eric and I have a colleague, David Marrison, the third of the field specialists in farm management. He's the leader for the farm transition planning efforts, along with our attorney, Robert Moore, who's with the OSU Agriculture Resource Law Program. David and Robert do a great job of both in-person workshops and also webinars that address the farm transition planning.

 

Eric Richer (33:01):

I think one of the neat things that David and Robert are doing this year is they're offering a webinar portion so that out-of-state heirs can listen in on some of the critical conversations or conversation starters that need to be had with mom and dad or whoever. So I think that's a neat component, that I believe is just being added this year.

 

Bruce Clevenger (33:22):

It is. And so the Monday nights, the Monday evenings in February, starting February 5th, 2024 for a four-night series-

 

Matt Adams (33:32):

Four night, okay.

 

Bruce Clevenger (33:32):

... will be a webinar version of that workshop on transition planning. And it's designed to really compliment those that maybe can't be all in the same room at the same time, but want to hear that information, or maybe need to hear the information as well. Sometimes it's painful to hear, "Maybe I'm not the sibling that has invested all the sweat equity into the farm. And maybe fair is not equal when it comes to the plan of farm transition." So those kinds of topics are gracefully navigated with David and Robert, both on the legal side, the legal maneuvers and strategies to make a plan. But also David does a great job of the messy part of it. And when I say, messy, I mean the people side.

 

Eric Richer (34:25):

Family dynamics, kind of navigating the family dynamics.

 

Bruce Clevenger (34:28):

Absolutely.

 

Matt Adams (34:28):

And it is so interesting to hear this because one of the questions I always ask our new producers is, "When we're buying that first farm, what's our end goal? What's our goal here?" More times out hear, "I want to build this for the next generation, for my kids. That's why I'm doing this." And you look at our industry too, we are a business, agriculture is a business. But we're so much more than that. People say, "Well, you're either a lifestyle or a business." Really we are both because you live, breathe, die this industry. This is everything we do. It's a business, but it is everything we do.

 

(35:07):

So when we look at this and that next generation... That's why I always tell people, especially as an agriculture lender and a cooperative like we are, where the farm credit system and AgCredit, I think we always set ourselves a little different where if I have a new producer sitting at the table. And I see their 4-year-old son or daughter sitting right beside them, "Hey, I'm looking to that next generation. I'm going to be doing a farm loan for you." And if dad or grandpa sitting there too, we want to be multi-generation. It's that legacy that we carry to help keep the family farm going and just keep growing it from there.

 

Bruce Clevenger (35:44):

I think lenders are a great asset for that farm management team to surround that kitchen table, and for lenders to be a part and have a chair at that kitchen table to help make informed decisions about this year, next year, 10 years, 20 years down the road. Lenders are so critical in that information appetite.

 

Matt Adams (36:07):

Yes. Well guys, it sounds like the Farm On and other programs we have scheduled for this winter, check several boxes for our new and beginning farmers, especially. The topics are on point for what today's producers need to know. I want to thank Eric Richer and Bruce Clevenger for joining me today. 

Remember to check out the AgCredit Winter webinar series that kicks off after the first of the year for more risk and financial management information. Stay tuned for the next episode of AgCredit Said It, where our host, Libby Wixtead, has the opportunity to sit down again with Ryan Conklin of Wright & Moore Law Offices, on business entities and structures. Be sure to listen in.

 

Voiceover (36:47):

Thank you for listening to AgCredit Said It. Be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. While you are there, leave us a review to help others find the show. Let's talk ag in between episodes. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at AgCredit. For more tips and resources, visit agcredit.net.