University class replaces tractors with spreadsheets

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Most ag students would expect to find themselves in classes learning how to maintain tractors, plant fields and increase production, but students in Kevin Moore’s “Returning to the Farm” class at the University of Missouri are introduced to spreadsheets and financial management.

"For a lot of the students, the first time they actually get exposed to the real financial numbers on the farm may be through this class," Moore tells the Southeast Missourian. "Generally, Mom and Dad try to make everything rosy for the kids.... For many, it's really their first honest exposure to the complete financial side of things."

Indeed, many farm kids don’t realize how much paperwork is involved in farming and running a business. Moore has his students bring the data from their parents’ farms for them to process in class. In order to inherit the family farm, students must first familiarize themselves with the financial side of the business.

Farmers over 75 years old outnumber farmers under 25 by 5 to 1. As a younger generation of farmers prepares to take over their family’s farms, it’s important they understand how they can integrate technology, like spreadsheets, into the operation of the family business.

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