AgDM newsletter article, January 2005

Learn Management and Marketing over the Internet

by William Edwards, extension economist, 515-294-6161,

Are you just too busy to go to that seminar or Extension meeting this week, but you would really like to have the information? There are other options. Iowa State University Extension offers home study courses on a variety of management and marketing topics over the Internet. Farmers, landowners and other agri-business people can access the courses any time or place that they can connect to the Internet. They are part of the Agricultural Management e-School, or AMES for short.

AMES courses are designed for adult learners who want in-depth information on a topic. Most of the courses have a one-time enrollment fee of $100, much less than for courses that carry college credit. Access is available indefinitely once the enrollment is completed, so learners can work through courses at their own pace. File sizes are kept small, so download time won't be long.

Nearly 500 people have signed up for AMES courses since they first became available. Most of them cite the convenience of being able to log on at any time, any place, as the number one advantage. The authors of the courses, mostly Extension Economists from ISU, are available to answer questions by e-mail about the topics that are covered. Some courses have “threaded discussions,” where enrollees can post questions and see responses from anyone else who is enrolled in the same course. Others will have groups discussions scheduled by e-mail at specific times.

The Agricultural Management e-School website is at: . Detailed information about each course is available there, including a free preview of each of the modules in every course. A short tutorial about how to use the different features of the course software is also available.

Other features found in AMES courses include:

Five courses are available now, and two more will be open by January 1.

Advanced grain marketing

Learn how to develop your own personal marketing plan. Topics include price trends, storage costs, cash marketing, futures and options, and how to use outlook information. New modules being added for 2005 will address fundamental and technical forecasting, USDA commodity programs, and new generation price contracts.

Financial decision making

Learn how to develop accurate and useful financial statements for your own business and for credit applications. Understand cash management, cash flow budgeting, asset investment, financial trouble shooting, and how to work with your lender. Case studies are included, as well as spreadsheets for financial statements and analysis.

Farmland ownership

Learn about what factors affect land values, and how to analyze investments in agricultural land. Understand techniques that professional appraisers use to value farm properties.

Farm leasing arrangements

Learn about different types of farm leases, how to set fair rents for land and buildings, and how to negotiate an effective lease. Other topics include legal and tax considerations, USDA programs, environmental concerns, and custom farming agreements.

Farm machinery economics

Learn how to control machinery costs, how to compare leasing and ownership, and how to set custom hire rates. Other topics include joint machinery ownership, transferring ownership to the next generation, replacing equipment, estimating hauling and drying costs, and designing harvesting systems. Includes nine spreadsheets.

Lean hog marketing

Study seasonal and cyclical price movements, cash contracts, futures, options, and livestock revenue insurance. Learn about price forecasting and how to develop a swine marketing plan.

Quality management systems

Find out how to certify your business as compliant with accepted quality management system standards, and how to make processes such as internal audits, corrective actions, work protocols, and useful records work for you.

Future courses will treat topics such as risk management in dairy marketing, human resource management, production of identity preserved grain, and strategic planning for farm families. Watch the AMES website at for more details.

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