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Published December 02, 2013, 10:12 AM

An objective view

Sonja Flaagan has been named Grand Forks-area instructor for the North Dakota Farm Business Management program, a new position.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

If you farm in northeast North Dakota, Sonja Flaagan wants to join your team.

If you farm elsewhere in the region, she hopes you connect with one of her colleagues.

Flaagan has been named Grand Forks-area instructor for the North Dakota Farm Business Management program, a new position.

“I look at it as becoming a part of a farmer’s team, just like an agronomist is part of his team,” she says of her position.

The farm business management program provides instruction and assistance in four areas: business and family goal setting; farm and ranch business records and accounting; planning and business analysis.

“I’m helping farmers to achieve their financial goals (through) sound record-keeping and looking at things objectively,” she says. “Often times farmers look at how they feel about the situation, and it may not be the best for them financially.”

People who utilize her services pay approximately $485 twice a year.

“We’re providing a lot of service for that price,” she says.

Lower crop prices could encourage more farmers to seek expert, outside help, she says.

“With the crop prices lower this year, you’re talking a lower profit margin,” she says. “There will be a little bit of a realization that I’ll have to be a smarter farmer. Not that people aren’t now, but they’ll have to take a closer look at what to raise.”

Flaagan has deep ties to agriculture. She grew up in a small dairy farm in central Minnesota and was involved in 4-H and FFA. Now, her husband, Adam, and father-in-law farm near Tolna, N.D.

She served as a high school ag teacher in Minnesota before becoming a loan operations specialist with Alerus Financial in Grand Forks.

“I really enjoyed the financial aspects of things, but, having been a teacher, I wanted to get back to helping people,” she says.

Flaagan, resides and is based in Northwood, N.D., about 35 miles southwest of Grand Forks. She works with ag producers in Grand Forks County and adjacent counties.

She suggests that farmers interested in utilizing the program check out its website, www.ndfarmmanagement.com. The site includes a list of its instructors and where they’re based.

The farm business management program had been serving northeast North Dakota through instructors in Devils Lake, Langdon and Fargo. Adding a position in Grand Forks allows the program to better serve farmers in the northeast corner of the state, she says.

Flaagan can be reached at: sonjaflaagan@lrsc.edu or 701-213-6860.

“Just call me if you’re interested,” she says.

Her position is administered through Lake Region State College in Devils Lake.

A second program instructor in the Grand Forks area will be hired if demand warrants, she says.

Outside North Dakota

Ag producers outside North Dakota have similar resources to tap. They include:

• South Dakota — The South Dakota Center for Ranch/Farm Management at Mitchell Technical Institute. More information: www.mitchelltech.edu/programs.

• Minnesota — Minnesota State Colleges and Universities’ Farm Business Management Education. More information: www.fbm. mnscu.edu.

• Montana — The Montana State University Extension Farm Management program. More information: www.montana.edu/ www.extec/farmmanagement.html.

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