K-State Research and Extension News
October 01, 2012
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Risk Management - Assessing and Controlling Risk in Your Farm, Ranch or Agribusiness Starts With an Educational Foundation

MANHATTAN, Kan. – As the external factors impacting today’s production and agribusiness operations continue to evolve, it is important to have a strong risk management strategy in place to combat threats and take advantage of opportunities.

“Risk is an inherent factor in many aspects of production and agribusiness operations, whether you’re dealing with external influences on crop yield; financial planning; or purchasing versus leasing decisions,” said Mykel Taylor, assistant professor and director of the Management, Analysis and Strategic Thinking program in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University.  “Understanding the specific risks that could impact your operation is crucial, but developing a plan to control and combat risks is even more crucial.”

Developing an effective risk management strategy starts by not only identifying the risks affecting the business operation, but also understanding them, which can be overwhelming since risk spans across so many disciplines.  However, comprehensive educational opportunities exist specifically designed for agricultural producers and agribusiness professionals.

The Management, Analysis and Strategic Thinking (MAST) program, led by Taylor and the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics, is an interactive learning program designed to provide participants with the tools they need to sharpen their management skills, decision-making abilities and strategic planning tactics for direct application to their farm, ranch or agribusiness – all built on a convenient hybrid educational model.

“MAST is comprised of two on-campus workshops, one in November and one in February, that serve as bookends to computer-based learning modules that participants complete at their own pace in the convenience of their own homes,” said Taylor.  “In addition to a module specifically dedicated to the topic of risk management, the curriculum dives into land ownership and leasing; machinery ownership and leasing; human resource management; tax and policy management; financial analysis; marketing; and more, ensuring participants are prepared to handle risk across the various facets of their operation.”

The depth of education offered by MAST in these topics is then tied into strategy development, which helps participants prepare their risk management and business plans.

“MAST will give you the tools you need to develop an effective business plan – a plan that will provide a road map for decision making through an objective, economic lens rooted in your intentions and goals for your farm, ranch or agribusiness,” Taylor said.  “Whether you want to grow in size or scope, participate in a related venture, prepare to turn your operation over to a new generation, or simply maintain your operation in the midst economic fluctuation and volatile commodity markets – the strategic planning skills covered in the MAST program will serve you in making the best decisions possible for your future.”

The MAST program is facilitated by industry-renowned agricultural economists including Art Barnaby, Allen Featherstone and Glynn Tonsor, in addition to many other top faculty from the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics and departments from other prominent schools in the country.  Participants gain not only educational benefits from the program, but also the opportunity to network with these respected academic leaders and with other participants from around the agricultural community.

Registration is currently open for the 2012-2013 MAST program, kicking off on the K-State campus in Manhattan on Nov. 13-14.  Participants should register no later than Nov. 2.  For more information and to register, visit MAST or call 785-532-6702 to speak with the program coordinator.

Developing a risk management strategy is not something to put off, and MAST provides the education needed to initiate or update risk management strategies for any farm, ranch or agribusiness, regardless of size, scope or ultimate goal.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Ashley Martin
K-State Research & Extension News

Mykel Taylor - mtaylor@ksu.edu