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Kent Vickre email address is 

Mississippi Valley Consultant Retires


Foundation News


Consultant Fall Workshop


NAFBAS Conference


Cedar Valley Annual Meeting Suspended


Software Corner




   October 2005


 By Phillip Benge, MVFBA Consultant


Grade school, high school, college, air force,
and then back to college; after many years of
education I graduated into the work force.  So
where do you go next?  Everett Stoneberg, one
of my ISU Economics instructors, advised me of
an opportunity with the Farm Business
Association in Eastern Iowa.  After applying
and accepting the position, I moved to Tipton to
begin working as a Farm Management
consultant with Mississippi Valley Farm
Business Association. 

My first office was in my home (a small upstairs
apartment on the edge of town) and consisted of
a filing cabinet, fireproof safe, calculator, a
Spirit duplicating machine, maps of members’
farms, extra record books/binders, and a couple
three-hole paper punches.  There were no
computers, internet, tax preparation software, or
email and I provided my own car and briefcase--
same as today’s consultants.  During my first
week, I followed consultant Chuck Greenlee
around on in his summer farm visits and daily
routine.  Seemed like pretty brief training, but
Chuck told me the members would help me
work into the job. 

The next week I started my own summer visits
to about 145 members scattered over Cedar,
Johnson, Muscatine, Scott, Clinton, and Jackson
counties–what an experience!  I made that round
of visits to the members thinking, “This isn’t too
bad and besides I really want to farm, so maybe
5-6 years at this job would be good for me”. 
My members’ farms ranged from 80 to 500 crop
acres and many types of livestock operations. 
Each operation had different ideas, goals, and
views on how to make a living from their
farming operation.  I wondered how I was going
to help them all??  I also began to wonder if I
was capable of analyzing each member’s
records.  Slowly, I began to learn the
background of each person and then by looking
at his “history book” (aka the Individual &
Comparative Analysis), I saw trends that could
help him in his decision making.

Some problems were easy to spot.  I remember
one farm that had a cattle feeding history for two
generations, but the son’s analysis records
showed that he was a better crop farmer than a
cattle feeder.  I encouraged him to rent an
additional farm.  After reviewing his records, the
profits on this rented farm surprised him.  Shortly
thereafter he dropped the cattle feeding operation. 
In some cases you don’t always make friends; his
dad didn’t speak to me for about 5 years because
of my involvement.

Tax preparation was a mystery to me when I
started, but I became trained and proceeded to
prepare taxes that first year.  I later learned that a
few members took their tax returns and had them
double checked by an old “Fieldman” who still
lived in the area.  I can’t say that I blame them, as
I was pretty green.  The tax returns were hand
figured and entered on a pencil copy.  A typical
return consisted of 1040, Sch. F, Fed & IA gas
tax credit, Form 4797 (sows/cows sold), Sch. D &
IA-1040.  Then we made an ink return and two
carbon copies--ink return to Federal, a copy to
Iowa, a copy to member.  In those days, we drove
to each farm and prepared the tax return.  In an
hour and a half, we would complete the return,
have coffee and be heading on down the road. 

Phil Benge, Mississippi Valley FBA Consultant, retires after 38 years of service with  the Iowa Farm Business Association.

Continued on Page 2 — “38 Years—Looking Back”