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Across the Editor's Desk

Agriculture.com Staff 01/10/2008 @ 12:00pm

A recent Ag Poll from Agriculture Online® (www.agriculture.com) indicates you have a lot of big numbers on your mind as you begin 2008. The numbers aren't just corn, soybean, and wheat prices hovering far above the 10-year average.

The cost side of the ledger is a big concern. In response to the question, "What's the biggest change you'll make in 2008?" many farmers put a priority on finances.

"Better cost control" and "Improved financial management" tied for top votes, each collecting 27%. "Land expansion" at 16% and "Retirement planning" at 12% were next top choices. "Increased yields" garnered 11%.

If you are in the group that really means to lift your skills in financial management, I challenge you to commit the time. Start with our four-page feature under the banner of "Super Powering Profits" beginning on page 34.

The story on page 40 covers the differences between cash accounting and accrual accounting. Business Editor Dan Looker then presents the rationale for using managerial accounting to track and analyze your farm business.

Managerial accounting is complex and for many farms requires the expertise of a CPA or other specialist. But it also provides the best way for many businesses to understand and make decisions based on a farm's true profitability.

To really understand the benefits of managerial accounting, I urge you to commit a day for in-depth learning. Attend one of three meetings scheduled for late January sponsored by Successful Farming magazine, Asgrow, and the Farm Financial Standards Council.

Meeting dates are January 28 at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; January 29 at the i wireless Center, Moline, Illinois; and January 30 at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

For further details on each of the three meetings, call toll free 800/678-8386 or visit this address on the Web: www.agriculture.com/SPP.

Among the meeting presenters will be Ron Swanson from Galt, Iowa, and Dick Wittman from Culdesac, Idaho. Both are past presidents of the Farm Financial Standards Council.

The rate of new information and rapid change in the world puts a big burden on producers to keep up. You can learn practically anything online just by searching.

You can learn directly from other producers located anywhere in the world just by visiting one of many farmer discussion groups. For many adults, learning is more effective and meaningful in an organized setting, such as a meeting or classroom. The structure aids learning and the interaction with other students (farmers) adds applied value to the experience.

The Web provides unlimited opportunities for learning to achieve formal credits or certification. I took the plunge five years ago and enrolled in a four credit hour Web course in managerial accounting offered by a local college.

I never met the instructor or any of the other 14 students in person. We came together only online but worked independently on projects, quizzes, and tests.

I worked harder than on any course 30 years earlier in graduate school. But the A grade I earned proved to my son and daughter that ol' Dad could still learn!

A recent Ag Poll from Agriculture Online® (www.agriculture.com) indicates you have a lot of big numbers on your mind as you begin 2008. The numbers aren't just corn, soybean, and wheat prices hovering far above the 10-year average.

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