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Published April 24, 2010, 12:00 AM

The business of management

It takes a lot of hard work to manage a farming operation.

It takes a lot of hard work to manage a farming operation.

Through a farm and ranch management program, area producers can keep track of their progress year by year, helping them to make educated decisions regarding their operation, said Jerry Tuhy, Dickinson-area instructor of the North Dakota Farm and Ranch Business Management class through Bismarck State College.

“Farmers enrolled pay tuition to Bismarck State College. It’s a whole year program, although we do run on semesters,” Tuhy said. “Being as they have information on their own farm, looking at what they can change to make things better; if you kind of know where you’re at, it’s easier to get where you’re going.”

About 30 Dickinson-area farms and ranches are enrolled in the program.

Assets, household and personal expenses, gross cash income as well as net returns on livestock and crop costs per acre are studied as a part of the program. Those enrolled also get individual on-farm sessions from an instructor.

Some farmers have been in the program for almost 30 years.

Mike Binstock, who farms with his brother Jeff near South Heart, said their farm, Clay Hills Farm, has been in the program for about 25 years.

“Early on, when we started, my brother and I decided we needed to keep a good set of records,” Binstock said. “With the program, we can go back and track our financial progress.”

Binstock said the program helps he and his brother be aware of what’s working and what’s not with their operation.

Data from last year’s group, which was recently released in an annual report, shows an average 2009 net farm income around $61,000.

Out of the farms enrolled in the program in 2009, 101 acres were share rent, 1,194 were cash rent and 439 were owned, according to an annual report.

Some surprising outcomes from last year’s participants included sunflower crops, Tuhy said.

“We had really good yields on sunflowers, we had good prices on sunflowers, but on the average we showed very little profit,” Tuhy said. “Typically sunflowers have done better than that. That’s not to say that some farmers didn’t do very well on sunflowers, because they did.”

Tuhy said anyone interested in enrolling in the program can contact him at 701-483-2348, ext. 122.