After a storm kept them away from a January conference, two agricultural economists finally got a chance to address Cortez farmers in person.
Norm Dalsted and Jenny Beiermann, both professors and extension agents with Colorado State University, were invited to be the keynote speakers at the first annual Southwest Agricultural Outlook, Strategies and Economic Summit on Jan. 24. But after a snowstorm kept them away, the event’s organizers scheduled a follow-up workshop to give local farmers a chance to learn from their expertise. On Monday, Feb. 27, about 20 people went to the Montezuma County Fairgrounds to hear about how to create an enterprise budget for the region’s common crops.
Beiermann, who works out of Grand Junction, was visiting Cortez for the first time, but said she hopes to make the trip more often.
“People tend to forget about the southwest corner of Colorado, but there’s really good agricultural land out here,” she said.
Beiermann had helped with research for the workshop, and she answered questions from the audience. But Dalsted, who has been to Montezuma County many times over his long career, did most of the talking. He had given a broad overview of enterprise budgets through a video conference call at the agriculture summit, but here he expanded on the lecture and made it more interactive. All the attendees had received worksheets ahead of time to write down their crop and livestock costs, and Dalsted asked them to work with him to create workable budgets for the next fiscal year or two. He said most of the farmers were more thorough than he expected.
“I’ve been very impressed with everyone’s knowledge,” he said.
With the help of spreadsheets and statistics displayed on the wall of the fairgrounds stadium’s conference room, Dalsted showed farmers how to tally up their costs against the projected price for each crop at harvest. They created budgets for wheat, alfalfa, beef and other products that tend to be most profitable in Montezuma County. He also gave a few tips on how to bring in revenue, like renting storage space or selling old equipment. He also said farmers can save money by avoiding the temptation to buy new unneeded equipment.
Steve Slagle, Cortez market manager for Four Corners Community Bank, said that’s not a big problem in Montezuma County.
“People around here are frugal with their equipment,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be flashy.”
Farmers discussed everything from crop insurance to pesticides. Some participants were experienced farmers, while some were new to the business. Dalsted told the newer farmers they should expect to spend a lot of time on their finances.
“This is the kind of effort you need to balance a budget,” he said after a long discussion of alfalfa costs.
Like the summit in January, Monday’s workshop was sponsored by Four Corners, D&D Sales, Dove Creek Implement and Basin Co-op. The group said it plans to host more agricultural events this year, though no dates were finalized.