The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Small Farm Program recently completed a risk management training program for farmers and ranchers to help Arkansas them minimize some risks involved with farming.

The three-part workshop series began in February. One-hundred and nine Arkansas farmers participated in the training. Twenty-five participants were veterans and 35 were new/beginning farmers.

Henry English, director of the Small Farm Program, said the training educated producers on five major risk areas – production, marketing, financial, legal and human resources. They learned about strategies for managing the different types of risks.

“The recent flooding in Arkansas is an example of a serious production risk farmers face,” he said. “Legal risks include death – when someone’s property becomes heir property – and divorce – when half of someone’s resources may be lost. Human resource risks include inadequately trained labor or mistakes made by a farmer due to overwork or stress.”

Considering that risks can overlap, it is important that farmers put risk management strategies in place to ensure their operations continue and that minimum money is lost when unexpected events occur, English said.

During the training, individualized study consisted of homework assignments. Participants developed their own financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements and enterprise budgets. They also took an inventory of their assets and assigned values to each.

“The purpose of the financial assignment was to teach participants the importance of record keeping and how lenders – bankers and FSA loan officers – use the records to analyze their operations and make loan decisions,” English said.

Kenneth Carswell, owner of Peaceful Pines Farm in Pine Bluff, said he participated in the training to better manage the risks involved with his operation. He currently raises goats, chickens, fruit, vegetables and timber.

“Thanks to the training, I gained a better understanding of some useful farm practices,” he said. “I learned about the options for and benefits of setting up different types of farm businesses such as a limited liability company (LLC), corporation (Inc.) and partnership.”

During the training, Carswell set goals that will benefit his farming operation. He plans to increase egg production, build a new chicken house, buy nesting boxes and contact new suppliers he could sell to.

Carswell recommends other Arkansas farmers take part in subsequent risk management training programs to be offered by the UAPB Small Farm Program.

For details on the risk management training or related programs, contact the Small Farm Program at 870-575-7225 or 870-575-7226.

— Will Hehemann is a writer/editor at the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences.