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Head of the class

Financial management isn't something farmers can master in school and then simply rest on their laurels. Owning and operating a small business requires continuing education.

That's why Janet and Jerry Epperson make an effort to get back in the classroom once or twice a year.

The Eppersons are part of a multifamily grain and hog operation near Vandalia, Missouri. They began their continuing ed in 2000 as the result of the millennium-related software glitch.

“We had to find new farm accounting software,” Janet says. “At the time, an accounting program was our focus.”

They made the decision to purchase AgManager, a managerial accounting software by AgriSolutions Inc. That decision launched them into a continuing education program.

As new users, the Eppersons began with an introductory AgManager managerial accounting class at AgriSolution's offices in Brighton, Illinois.

At the class, they became familiar with AgriSolutions' Producer Education programs. “It's powerful software, and we learn more using it in a setting where we can ask questions,” Jerry says.

Producers bring their own tax or accounting records to classes, which range from a review of basic accounting principles to financial reporting, analysis of operational and capital cash flow, working capital requirements evaluation, and growth and debt funding analysis.

One session helped the Eppersons weigh the pros and cons of acquiring new equipment.

“It's given us a comfort level on some of the things we're doing and where we're heading,” Jerry says.

They also use their software to study and identify ways to grow their operation. “Last fall, we wanted to bid on a farm, and we used it to put together a workable bid for our operation,” Jerry says.

They rely on it for business and strategic plans. “It helps us look at our ratios before we work with a lender, review our progress, and target weak points and areas we could expand,” he says. “The way the industry is going and what's required by bankers, it will be difficult to operate without these record-keeping abilities.”

Last year, AgManager received a face-lift. As a result, data entry and navigation are easier. The software also features a new menu structure to improve user navigation and tool tips that simplify menu options.

Icons have been updated, along with a new calendar for easy date selection. There is a new calculator to update amount fields and an electronic tape.

“Producers don't necessarily pay for all inputs or receive all their revenue within a 12-month calendar year,” says Carolyn Roberts, assistant director of operations, AgriSolutions, Inc. “AgManager allows them to manage their business production cycle differently than the tax year.”

Upcoming Sessions

If you'd like to continue your education, here are the upcoming AgriSolutions classes:

March 8-11

Madison, WI

March 15-18

Mankato, MN

March 21-22

Sioux Falls, SD

March 22-25

Fargo, ND

March 24-25

Des Moines, IA

March 29-30

Indianapolis, IN

Online options are available, too.

“You don't have to use AgManager to attend the classes,” says Leona Cox, director of operations. For more information, call 800/454-4524 or e-mail

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