IMPACT: Ag Decision Maker

IMPACT: Ag Decision Maker


I was sitting in my office one day and
noticing all the information I’d get from campus and I didn’t have but I knew
the clients to get it but it didn’t have a way of getting it to him unless they
held a meeting and not everybody comes to meetings either. So I decided well I
should get this in the hands of the people when they’re making decisions and their often doing that when they’re sitting in their lenders office.
And so I decided to start a big three-ring binder with Iowa State colors,
called it Farm Management Handbook. A simple idea to get updated information
into the hands of farmers and ag lenders spurred the creation of Ag
Decision Maker. Since its inception in 1979 Ag Decision Maker has become one of Iowa
State University Extension and Outreach’s most valuable tools. I think it’s unique
in that it’s something that is very easy to understand it’s very easy to find the
information to answer those specific questions a person might be looking for.
And other states have similar programs to Ag Decision Maker but I
think that Ag Decision Maker does a really good job at answering those basic
questions that maybe a person person is looking for answers for. There are nearly
10,000 visitors to Ag Decision Maker’s website daily. Visitors find fact sheets,
spreadsheets and publications along with other resources that provide guidance on
how to make informed decisions on their farm. Everything of course that went out and
still goes out has ISU Extension’s name on it in one form or another and we always
looked upon ourselves as being an unbiased source. We have no stake in the
game. Erwin Johnson has been farming near Charles City for 40 years. He was one of the earliest recipients of the Farm
Management Handbook when it became available in 1979 and has been using it
ever since. My grandparents bought this farm during the depression, 1938
and then my parents bought it from my aunt and uncle and then now it’s all together in a corporation. Johnson is the third generation from his family to farm his
land and is in the process of passing the farm down to his daughter Wendy.
Together they use Ag Decision Maker to make smart farm business decisions. Ag Decision Maker has helped me be a better farmer but it’s helped me be
more successful economically. I think that that’s probably the the
primary thing that Ag Decision Maker has improved. It helped us improve our
business. I’m a big guy on dollars and cents and to me a farming the farm
sustainable was one is profitable and that’s that comes first and then you can
be conservation or entity can be all these other things but profit has to come
first and Ag Decision Maker is a tool that I can use to help me be, continue
to be profitable. The information in Ag Decision Maker
comes from both farm management specialists with ISU Extension and
Outreach and faculty members in the university’s Department of Economics.
This partnership allows information to move from experts on campus to farmers
across the state while also providing real-time feedback on current issues. The
purpose of Ag Decision Maker was to get information in the hands of people,
farmers specifically when they were making these decisions, to help them make better decisions. And so it was provided in a manner where it was given to them
at the time of decision making. For example, when they’re sitting in their
banker’s office. Updates to material offered through Ag Decision Maker are
sent through a monthly newsletter and are available online. Agriculture is
changing. It’s a really a dynamic business and there’s so many changes
going on and I think that assuming the writers of Ag Decision Makers can stay
ahead of the curve a little bit it’ll always be a viable tool for us in the
future as well as now. For nearly 40 years Ag Decision Maker has worked to
help Iowa farmers be prepared to make informed decisions regarding their
finances. We really pride ourselves on providing that educational resource for
Iowans and those who have a say on decisions made on Iowa farmland.

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