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Future Heads Of Family Farms Dig Into Financials

The necessity of having those conversations will only increase. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of U.S. farmers older than 65 grew by nearly 22 percent between 2002 and 2007. Farmers 75 and older outnumber those under 25 in the country 5-1.

Anderson, a 21-year-old junior, returns to the farm that's 30 miles east of campus on the weekends to help out. When it's time to harvest the rows of soybeans and corn, he makes the same trip three to four times weekly. He also sells corn from his own small patch of land at a roadside stand in front of the family home, a part-time summer job he's done since he was nine that helps pay for college.

After graduation, he hopes to add 50 to 100 head of cattle and grow the family operation by another 500 acres, as well as sell seeds for supplemental income. He said Moore's class has given him the financial tools to support that decision.

"In high school, I didn't expect to get back on the farm. It seemed like times were getting tough," Anderson said. "And at Mizzou, I saw all these other farm kids who couldn't come back. But this is what I've grown up doing, it's what I have a passion for."

Dale Nordquist, associate director of the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota, said Missouri's practical approach to understanding farm finances is relatively uncommon at large, land-grant universities where both students and professors are more likely to concentrate on theoretical approaches as opposed to practical solutions, and the use of personal data can still be seen as an intrusion.

Beyond the nuts and bolts of finances, he said such training can serve an equally valuable purpose: It forces farm families to prepare their sons and daughters to take over the business.

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