NPR - IMPROVING FARM COMPETITIVENESS THROUGH REVITALIZATION OF OHIO’S FARM BUSINESS ANALYSIS AND BENCHMARKING PROGRAM
The last Ohio Farm Business Summary was published in 2006 and included 46 farms. While this provided useful data and insights for Ohio, it did so only on a basic level as 40 of the 46 analyses were Whole Farm Analyses. The six farms that completed a full enterprise analysis were dairy farms and also the only source of crop enterprise data. With the shift of OSU Extension’s last farm management faculty member to leadership of OSU Extension’s Agriculture program, no further analyses were compiled. In the years since the last published analysis, the number of farms completing analysis dropped to about 17 in 2009 with no published data. This lack of Ohio economic and benchmarking data left Ohio farmers at a competitive disadvantage to farmers in other states with analysis programs.
In 2010, Ohio was invited to participate in a national farm benchmarking project headed by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Farm Financial Management (CFFM) which provided competitive funding to support states’ efforts to begin or improve their financial analysis and benchmarking programs to ultimately increase data contributions to the FINBIN national benchmarking database.
A critical component of increasing the capacity for analysis was recruiting and training qualified people to complete these analyses. Ohio State University Extension partnered with the Ohio Farm Business Planning and Analysis Program (FBPA). Five FBPA consultants and twenty-four Extension Educators, specialists, and staff have received specialized FINAN training. Training sessions focused on gathering data, completing FINANs, troubleshooting results, improving the Ohio analysis program, and how to work with clients and their analyses, and summaries. Promotion efforts were also developed to recruit farm participation.
As a result of these efforts, 46 analyses were completed for 2010. Of the 46, 43 included enterprise analysis, more than a 600% increase from 2006. Participation continues to grow; with opportunities for farms needing to improve their production and financial recordkeeping practices to work towards an analysis of their current year’s business rather than trying to reconstruct information from the past year being added in 2015. More information about Ohio’s Farm Business Summary program can be found at http://farmprofitability.osu.edu.
Keywords: Farm Business Analysis Programs, Benchmarking