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Farmers to be focus of finance sessions
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A nationwide survey was conducted in January at the University of Minnesota to better understand the agriculture economy during volatile times. Eighty-four percent of U.S. agricultural professionals surveyed say the probability that many producers will experience financial stress in the next three years is "high or very high."

Respondents identified the major factors contributing to farm financial stress. As one would expect, the top three were price/input cost margins, price volatility and negative cash flows.

However, No. 4 was a bit of a surprise. The fourth-ranked contributor to farm financial stress was identified as inadequate business planning. In today’s uncertain times, farmers cannot afford to postpone important financial planning decisions.

In addition, many changes in tax policy are taking place now. These changes likely will have implications on how farming operations function now and on the farm owner’s ability to pass on the farm to the next generation.

The Financial Planning for Farm Families series is designed specifically with the farmer in mind to answer these and many other common questions. The program is for couples, adult children or heirs who currently own and operate a farm or have significant land holdings.

The series will take place over several months to allow participants ample time to research and gather information that may be helpful in future sessions. Here is a brief outline of the program:

March 30: Overview & Basics of Financial Planning with Joan Koonce, financial planning specialist for the UGA Family & Consumer Sciences Extension.

May 26: Update on Tax Issues with Randy Donaldson, business consultant for the UGA Small Business Development Center, and Keith Kightlinger, agricultural economist for UGA Cooperative Extension Ag Economics.

Aug. 18: Tax Implications & Options for Land Transfers & Family Gifts with Perry Barnett, CPA, Rushton & Co.

Oct. 6: Estate Planning, Wills & Limited Family Partnerships with Koonce and a financial planning representative from the Georgia Farm Bureau.

The cost to attend is $30 per family per session. If participants choose to attend all four sessions, the cost is discounted to $25 per session ($100 total). Light refreshments and all program handouts are included in the registration fee.

For more information, call the Hall County Extension Office at 770-535-8293.

Billy Skaggs is a Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988. His column appears biweekly.

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