Rutgers Farm Business Management/Marketing Training and Information Program

Frances Adelaja & Robin Brumfield

Rutgers University - Cook College

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Objective

Farmers need management, marketing, financial, and planning skills to survive in a highly competitive business environ-ment. The Farm Business Management /Marketing Training and Information Program was developed to address these needs by providing in-depth training to enable farmers to gain the knowledge and skills to plan and meet their financial, business, and family goals. Thus keeping New Jersey's farm industries competitive, innovative, productive, and viable in today's and future global economy.

Background

For a second year, Rutgers' Cook/New Jersey Agricultural Extension Service(NJAES) received an Agricultural Economic Recovery Development Initiative (AERDI) grant from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture's (NJDA) Division of Rural Resources to continue teaching New Jersey farmers and producers progressive or innovative business management and marketing techniques. These were designed to improve, modernize, and keep agriculture in New Jersey viable and competitive.

The NJDA also gave Production Efficiency Grants (PEG) to 663 New Jersey farmers in 1995. PEG was given to farmers to invest in projects which:

1) improve farm management practices

2) make conservation and natural resource improvements

3) implement new technology

4) improve and expand farm marketing facilities and

5) profitability

Although the 633 PEG recipients were required to take a minimum of three hours of farm business management and marketing from Cook/NJAES, over 1,240 farmers attended the 47 training sessions throughout the state. The training pro-gram was also open to all New Jersey farmers.

Developing these 47 farm business and marketing training sessions, required collaboration and coalition building with departments within Cook/NJAES, and 30 other agricultural and non-agricultural organizations. This effective utilization of resources and knowledge from the team enabled Rutgers' Cook/NJAES to effectively and successfully deliver a very informative, concise, and thought provoking farm business management and marketing training program to the farm industry.

Project

The AERDI grant, called the Rutgers Farm Business Management/Marketing Training and Information Program (the Training Program) directed by Dr. Robin Brumfield, consisted of two components: the Farm Business Management /Marketing Training Program; and On-Line Market Information Database, and Hot-line Information System.

Frances Adelaja, Program Associate in Farm Management, coordinated and implemented both the Farm Business Management/Marketing Training program and the On-Line and Hot-Line database Systems.

Two separate advisory committees were convened for each component of the Training Program. For the Farm Business Management/Marketing Training Program component, a farm training advisory committee consisting of representatives from Rutgers Cooperative Extension, the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Farm Bureau, First Pioneer Farm Credit ACA, Farm Service Agency, Small Business Administrations, and other agricultural and non-agricultural organizations were organized to identify the subject area that would be immediately useful to farmers.

The committee recommended that training in farm business management should be concentrated in six core subject areas: Labor Management, Financial Management, Estate Planning, Owning and Using Property, Management, and Marketing. From these six core subject areas, came forty seven multiple training sessions that were offered during the 1995 to 1996 period.

The forty-seven multiple Farm Business Management/Marketing Training courses were held from the fall of 1995 through the spring of 1996 and resulted in nearly 4,900 contact hours with farmers. The training course included: Estate Planning; Computerized Recordkeeping Accounting Software (QuickBooks, Quicken, QuickPay), Strategic Planning, Identifying Farm & Family Goals, Pre-Retirement Planning, Managing Farm Record Finances (Balance Sheet & Income Statements), Financial Reporting and Analysis in Agriculture, Analyzing the Farm Operation Using Whole-Farm Budgeting and Partial Farm Budgeting, Labor Management, Agricultural On-Line Information, Computer Basics, Agricultural Marketing on the Internet, Supplementary Income Opportunities, Crop Insurance, Positioning Your Dairy For The Future, General Marketing, Horticultural Marketing, Grain Marketing with futures, and other programs tailored to specific commodities.

For the On-Line database services and Hot-Line information systems component of the Training Program, an advisory committee consisting of representatives from the NJDA, the USDA, Farm Bureau farmers, and other professional organi-zations personnel was convened to identify information needed on both the database and hot-line information system.

The On-Line database, which can be accessed twenty-four hours a day, allows farmers, agents, specialists, NJDA/USDA personnel, and other agricultural information users direct computer access to commodity prices, at terminal markets, shipping points, future markets, and prices and volume information at the Vineland Auction.

The Hot-line information systems provide telephone access to RCE technical reports, technical information, marketing information, and crop information. The system allows a user to request information by pressing buttons on their touch-tone telephones as directed by a recorded voice. These documents are then sent via fax to the phone location requested. This Fax-On-Demand and fax broadcast operation is designed to improve communication between the agricultural community and Rutgers University.

IMPACT

The program has been very well received. Over 1,240 farmers participated in the 1995 Rutgers Farm Business Management/Marketing Training and Information Program held at Cook Campus, at Cook/NJAES off-campus research centers, at RCE county offices, at non-agricultural buildings, and in conjunction with commodity group meetings. Although PEG recipients were required to take only 3 hours of training, many of the farmers attended additional training sessions.

The following are a summary outcome of the Training Program:

Forty seven farm business management /marketing training sessions were held.

Over 1,240 farmers attended these train-ing sessions. The training sessions resulted in 4,900 contact hours.

Fifty-four speakers conducted the 47 training sessions.

Over 30 agricultural & non-Agricultural agencies worked to deliver a very successful training program.

About 13,423 informational faxes were faxed directly to the farmer and agriculture support persons.

Approximately 1,959 agricultural constituents logged-in to the AERDI On-Line agricultural database. This figure does not cover the over 200 Rutgers' Cook College accounts (Agents, specialists, researchers, and administrators), or NJDA, and other Rutgers accounts that log onto the system.

Roughly 16,893 agricultural constituents phoned-in for agricultural news recordings.

An estimated 104 Kermit disks and instruction sheets were sent out to users.

Roughly 27 talks and demonstrations were given on the On-line and fax information systems.

Participants at the sessions also gave glowing evaluations of the Training Program. Most attendees rated the course good to excellent and would recommend the program to an associate. The following are some of the course comments from the formal evaluation sheet:

"Best seminar I have attended in my 20 years in the industry"

"More than I expected"

"One of the best classes I have ever attended"

"The program is a home run"

"Very well done and informative"

"I thought I already knew the information being presented - I was wrong"

"Keep up the good work"

"Worthwhile attending"

"Very good"

"Time went by in a friendly and relaxed environment"

"I enjoyed my three hours of class. Made me want to take more classes"

"Thanks"

"Inspiring, motivating, and useful information"

"Was highly informative"

"More classes"

"Great"

Most of the participants rated the speakers "excellent to good" and said the pace of the course was "about right."

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