Ireland – Recent Entrants Training

Last week I had the pleasure of bringing 3 colleagues from Ireland’s extension service around Vermont. I studied last year with James, Fintan and Kevin, financial management specialists, when I was on sabbatical study leave in Ireland.

James McDonnell and Kevin Connolly, Teagasc; learn about maple at Mary McCuaig's, S.Woodstock, VT.

James McDonnell and Kevin Connolly, Teagasc; learn about sugaring from Mary McCuaig, S.Woodstock, VT.

Not surprisingly, farm financial training was one of our topics of conversation. They told me about a 3 half-day training program, ‘Cash Plan 2014.’ It is specifically for farmers who started up since the beginning of 2008 (recent entrants), dairy farmers in particular. Teagasc (an organization similar to Land Grant colleges in the US) will begin offering this course in the fall of 2014, they have 900 farmers signed up for it now.

Farmers who successfully complete the program will receive up to €1,000 (about $1,300)! The course is ‘hands-on’ with spreadsheets to be used for farm financial recording on a monthly basis for 2014, and preparing a monthly budget for 2015. The third piece of the course is to complete a workbook, My Farm, My Plan (Teagasc) that guides a farmer through the thought process of writing a business plan.

The European Union’s Dairy Marketing Quota ends in the spring of 2015. The Irish government wants more milk (for the cash that it creates), dairy farming is one of the most profitable sectors of the ag economy there, and many dairy farmers are planning expansions. The goal of ‘Cash Plan 2014’ is to teach the use of financial tools, and to get farmers thinking about a plan for their expansion.

The Vermont New Farmer Project has a 3 half-day course in February, Intro to Ag Financial Management (alas-with no big grant money to encourage people to attend). Our plan, as of July 2014, is to offer it in Feb, 2015 in Rutland and Berlin. The course focuses on the 3 basic financial statements: Balance Sheet, Cash Flow, and Income Statement, and how you can use them to manage your farm.

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About Dennis Kauppila

I work with farmers on finances. I started with UVM Extension in 1983, and have worked with hundreds of farmers on issues ranging from starting a farm, how to get a loan, leasing a farm, understanding farm finances, to retiring from farming. I teach 1 or 2 courses for farmers each winter. I am working with several farmers now on business plans, and I continue to work with many farmers on balance sheets and budgeting.
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