College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

IAA Agricultural Business Management Program Provides Students with Business Acumen

JoEllen M. Barnhart, Ph.D.

Climate changes, volatile markets, limited land, relentless population growth, and historically low wages are only a sampling of the issues affecting the business of farming in America.  But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, lack of business knowledge among farmers also prevents farming families from leading a farm to profit.

“The University of Maryland’s Institute of Applied Agriculture  (IAA) Agriculture Business Management program was born out of the need to empower farmers to become more business-minded with knowledge to plan, produce, innovate, and maintain proper financial and business records,’ states Glori Hyman, Director of IAA. “The certificate program includes courses such as Agricultural Marketing, Business Management, Business Law, Personnel Management, and Introduction to Finance to assist new and existing farmers with a tool box of basic business principles.”

IAA student Andy Bauer is learning this serious business side of farming. Growing up on a family farm in Howard County, Maryland, Bauer learned about the day-to-day demands and labor required to run a production farm. Now he holds a dream of owning is own commercial grain farm placing him on a mission to complement his farming skills with updated business savvy.

Bauer’s mission to gain the needed business skills for his dream led him to the IAA.  “I came to the IAA seeking to acquire skills to efficiently manage money, equipment, and personnel on the farm, and gain experience in providing for the community while at the same time being able to sustain my resources,” claims Bauer.

Diversifying his farming interests with auxiliary, innovative resourceful ideas is a concept Bauer is now configuring in his plans.  “I would also like to discover alternative enterprises that I can seek in the case I am not able to follow through with commercial grain farming,” he states.  So far, those alternative enterprise ideas include augmenting his commercial grain farm with selling quality pork and show hogs, as well as, raising a small cow-calf herd.

Bauer admits his professional agricultural goal is broad, but he knows with the knowledge gained through the IAA Agricultural Business Management program, he will be ready “to be extremely efficient and still be able to satisfy (my) buyers with a product that is safe and very tasty.”

“All of our IAA programs instill strong skills to face the demands of change,” states Hyman. For Bauer, strong ethics and fundamental marketing principles are fully refined as he sets out to face the many business issues confronting life as commercial farmer. “My goal is to stand-out among other farmers in the area and be known as someone who is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and successful,” he says. 

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