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Press Coverage / August 15, 2006

AgMpower is a new farm management tool

Source: Grainews, by Bonnie Warnyca

Leo Kosokowsky recently quit his farm consultant job with Meyers Norris Penny to begin his own software and consulting business called AgMpower in March 2006. His new software modules offer an online benchmarking program so you can compare your costs, returns, margins and seeding intentions. You can do this for your own farm and if you wish with other farmers.

Kenton Possberg was recently named Saskatchewan's Outstanding Young Farmer at the Western Canada Farm Progress Show. He farms 13,000 acres near Humboldt, Sask., and was one of the first farmers to sign up for the AgMpower modules. Kenton hoists AgMpower right up there with several other management strategies.

"I have a DTN, use a Blackberry to keep up with the markets from the tractor and combine, I subscribe to a few market analysts, I have a broker who I talk with a couple of times a day, and I also pay a fee for service to a group called FarmLink out of Manitoba which constantly searches for the best prices for my crops.

"I've pared down my marketing subscriptions and kept the ones I feel I can most benefit from. I really like the easy-to-use format of the AgMpower program because virtually anyone can understand it and I can give my banker and consultants a password to access my information, which I keep current. I can choose whether I just want to include my seeding information or go to another level to add my forward contracting data. During the summer months I plan to begin inputting my preliminary budgets for the next crop year."

Leo says, "As a consultant in a single client situation, I put down all the relative information for the farm to create a spreadsheet but by the time a farmer returned home the numbers had already changed.

"As a member of AgMpower, a farmer puts all production information in a computer online easy-to-use form and can update it daily if necessary."

Once seeding intentions are entered and all associated costs are included, the Budget Module calculates the margins and shows a farmer how many bushels must be harvested per acre and what it has to be sold for to break even or make a profit."

The Budget Planning Module costs $500 and includes: The information modules are built for sharing. The true value of the software is in networking the information through a producer's management team like his banker, accountant, chemical dealer, agronomist, marketing agent and so on. All or parts of the information can be kept confidential. Leo says it's entirely up to you which information is shared with individuals on that farm team.

"The asset list helps the insurance broker keep the equipment insured to the maximum. The lender in turn sees the value of the assets and the coverage and is better able to assign loans. By knowing how much the financial institution or banker is willing to lend, the advisor or farm consultant knows whether a consolidation of debt or expansion is possible."

Another innovative element in the program is the compilation of information from other farmers to generate both provincial and regional averages.

"I believe that having access to whole farm costs and identifying strengths and weaknesses for many different farm combinations is extremely valuable," says Leo. "By comparing themselves to the top 25th percentile, a farmer then has a better idea where to make some corrections. Can they improve on input costs or do they need to concentrate on improving their marketing skills?"

Reflecting on his membership in the networking group, Possberg says having a reference point for whole farm costs amongst some of his peers has given him another tool to improve the bottom line.

"None of the group members live close to each other, making it easier to be completely open with our records. After viewing some of the members' contribution margins, I re-evaluated the quality of rental land, crop budgets and input costs. There are areas where I thought I could reduce my costs but when I see that I'm in line with the averages I was able to turn my attention to other areas of the farm. At times just the affirmation that I'm on the right track helps me keep a positive attitude."

AgMpower doesn't have a large online customer base yet and Leo admits part of the success of the program depends on having more farmers signed up. He believes that other consultants and advisors will embrace this software to help their clients.

"This software can provide so much more than a one-time snapshot such as put out by Statistics Canada," says Leo. "Seeding intentions for everyone on the database is updated daily. Each farmer's individual information is kept confidential but when it is parlayed with other farmers it offers a magnified view of average farm operating and management costs for producers with same size operations."

As an introduction to the program, Leo is offering a 50% discount on the Budget Module (for as long as they keep their annual membership) for the first 10 farmers who sign up in each region.

The regions include the Grains Risk Zones provided by production insurance companies in each province. There are 23 zones in Saskatchewan, 22 in Alberta and 15 in Manitoba.

For more information about the AgMpower Internet-based farm management system, you can sign up for a free trial.


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