February 2, 2000 | By: Aimee D. Heald

More and more, Kentucky farmers are realizing the importance of good record-keeping and sound business decisions. In a time of financial strain, when there is not much room in the books for error, farmers are looking to Cooperative Extension for help.

The Kentucky Farm Business Management Program has been assisting farmers for many years. It is a cooperative educational effort between the University of Kentucky Department of Agricultural Economics, the UK College of Agriculture and farmers in six Farm Management Associations.

Area farm management specialists in each of the six regions work to provide farmers with accurate data about their operations and also give objective counseling to aid them in making good decisions.

"Our participants receive objective financial counseling with a trained specialist," Colby Blair, Bluegrass Area farm management specialist, said. "We also give them assistance in preparing tax returns and advice on estate planning, among many other things."

The program benefits Kentucky's agriculture industry by providing factual information on farm businesses in the Commonwealth, providing actual data on the farm business operation, providing data for economic studies. Another benefit of program is the ability to identify trends in Kentucky farm business that are useful in teaching, research and Extension efforts.

A farmer who joins the program will learn to keep better records and learn better business sense by learning to use such program materials as a complete detailed and organized farm record system, standardized financial statements, and computerized business reports. Farmers will also learn how to plan for a crisis.

Specialists try to visit each participant every three months to discuss where that individual stands and where they need to put their focus for the next three months.

"We're really proud of the farmers we have in this program," Blair said. "I need good people because the bottom line is communication. We want people who will work with us, or it wont' do either one of us any good."

A state newsletter is published three times each year for program participants. Additionally, at least three areas publish their own newsletter. They also can be accessed on the World Wide Web through the UK agricultural economics department.

There is a yearly cost to be a member of the program. Contact your county Extension agent for more information and specific costs. They will discuss the program with you and direct you to members who will give information to show why membership is valuable.


Colby Blair 606-252-3673