Farmers can find assistance

Hog and dairy prices have improved recently compared to the disastrous levels of the past two years. But livestock producers still grapple with the tough economy. Iowa State University Extension is making it easier for them to find the educational and informational resources they need.

“We want livestock producers to easily find ISU people and information that can help them work through the financial issues and develop financial plans for the coming years,” says John Lawrence, ISU Extension livestock economist. “We know many producers are feeling financial and emotional stress after losing so much of their equity. To help them, we’ve placed our materials on one Web page for their convenience.”

The Web page, “Managing Financial Tough Times for Livestock Producers,” at
, has information organized on seven subpages: Iowa Concern; Ag Decision Maker; Center for Ag Law and Taxation; financial tools specific to beef, dairy and pork producers; and tips to help parents talk to kids about the financial situation.

Keeping communications open

The Iowa Concerns page brings forward legal, financial and emotional support by providing a toll-free number, Web chat and frequently asked questions. “We can help producers understand that it was market forces that created this situation, not errors in management on their part,” says John Baker, Iowa Concerns attorney. “Many people will need to learn to communicate in new ways and to communicate well as they deal with the tremendous stress caused by this situation where they’ve lost a lot of money in the livestock business.”

“What Do We Tell The Kids?” is a presentation linked to the new site that covers a topic related to the livestock financial crisis, but is not often discussed. “It is important that families know how to keep communications open and honest,” says Larry Tranel, an ISU Extension livestock and forage specialist in northeast Iowa.

The Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation page has links to livestock financial issues and information on topics such as bankruptcy, civil liabilities, contracts, insurance and secured transactions. And the financial management section provides Ag Decision Maker files and tools that are specific to livestock economics.

Species-specific information has been gathered from ISU Extension resources for beef, dairy and pork. Other efforts include the Managing Tough Times Web site at www.extension.
and program videos such as the farm financial assistance program at

ICA recognition

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association recently recognized people and county associations for their achievements. At its recent annual convention, ICA named county award winners, Iowa graduates of the Masters of Beef Advocacy course and the annual brand-wall participants.

In 2009, ICA’s member numbers increased for the first time in five years. ICA recognized three counties for their exceptional efforts. Clay County has the largest number of ICA members with 304. Cherokee County recruited the largest number of new ICA members, at 58. Mills-Montgomery County had the highest percentage of renewals at 97%.

The Masters of Beef Advocacy, or MBA, Program launched in fall 2008 recently hit a milestone with 1,000 registered course participants nationally. About 100 participants from Iowa have registered and about 50 have completed the program.

The MBA program teaches farmers, university people, 4-H and FFA members, and industry affiliates across the country how to become effective spokespeople for the beef industry. The program consists of six one-hour core courses: beef safety, beef nutrition, animal care, environmental stewardship, modern beef production and the beef checkoff.

This article published in the February, 2010 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.