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Assessment Tools for Improving Farmer Financial Skills

Three financial assessment-centered tools and programs: a trainers' assessment tool, Annie's Project, and a cash flow analysis tool.


Farming is a business, but many farmers are not familiar with many of the tools available to manage their farm finances. The first crucial step to intelligent financial decisions is assessing your current situation, and understanding your historical trends.

This webinar focuses on three assessment-centered tools and programs. First, we will learn about a tool for farmer trainers themselves - to assess the strengths of the trainer’s knowledge as well as assess students’ knowledge at the outset and their subsequent progress. Second, how Annie's Project, a highly successful program for women farmers, integrates such an assessment tool as a part of the curriculum. And third, an entry level training tool that walks farmers through farm business cash flow analysis in an approachable way.

Assessment is not the end goal of beginning farmer training.  However, assessment is fundamental to the success of financial skills education by providing a measurable feedback loop for improvement, adjustment, and documentation of effectiveness.



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Presenter Bios

Gary Matteson

Gary MattesonGary Matteson works for the Farm Credit Council in Washington, DC, which is the trade organization of the Farm Credit System.  Farm Credit is a nationwide network of borrower-owned lending institutions, providing credit for the nation’s farmers and ranchers.  
As the Vice President for Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach, Gary seeks to identify and meet the needs of the next generation of farmers and ranchers as a part of Farm Credit’s enduring mission of service to agriculture and rural America.  Farm Credit provided some $7.7 billion to young farmers, $12 billion for beginning farmers, and $14.2 billion in financing for small farmers in 2008. 
Until recently Gary was a small farmer operating a wholesale greenhouse business in New Hampshire, including raising cattle for the local freezer beef market.  He holds bachelor’s degrees in agronomy and biology from the University of Connecticut.

Madeline Schultz

Madeline Schultz

Madeline Schultz joined the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Value Added Agriculture Program (VAAP) in 2003. She is Co-Director of the Annie’s National Network Initiative for Educational Success (ANNIES) and helps manage Annie’s Project,, a national farm management education program designed for women.  Schultz founded the Cooperatives Community of Practice on, a national extension website with more than 75 communities of practice providing research based content. Schultz contributes to the national Agricultural Marketing Resource Center Web site,, a virtual library for value-added agriculture. Her agricultural business development activities include value-added business planning, market analysis, group facilitation, cooperative development, and feasibility studies. She designs training programs from one day value-added agriculture forums for Iowans to two week intensive agricultural courses for International learners. Schultz is a family farmer experienced with diversified livestock and dairy farming. The Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) awarded Annie’s Project with the Distinguished Extension/Outreach Program: Group Award in August, 2012. At Iowa State University, Schultz earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Agribusiness and Economics in 2003 and the Master of Business Administration degree with an interest in Sustainable Agriculture in 2007.


Allen Williams

Allen WilliamsAllen Williams is founding partner and President of Livestock Management Consultants, LLC, an Agriculture & Food Industry consulting firm specializing in enhanced farm and food company sustainability and profitability through values based value chain product development and marketing, specializing in grass fed beef production. Allen is a sixth generation family farmer and holds BS, MS degrees in Agriculture from Clemson University and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. He spent 15 years in academia in research, teaching, and extension, and has written more than 200 peer reviewed and popular press articles. In 2000, he left academia and founded LMC, LLC. Since that time, he has worked with more than 3,000 farmers and ranchers in the US, Canada, Mexico, and South America. LMC, LLC also consults with processors, distributors, retailers, and food service.  Allen has authored numerous feasibility studies, business plans, and Cash Flow projections for the natural and organic food sectors.  He has written standards and protocols for a number of branded food programs. He currently serves as Chairman of the Association of Family Farms, Executive Committee of the Grass Fed Exchange, Co-Project Leader of the Pasture Project, Member of the USDA BFRDP EET program, and Principal Investigator in soil microbial research as a replacement for chemical fertilizers.  Allen has been an invited speaker at over 300 regional, national, and international conferences and symposia. 

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