The relationships of selected classifications of area farm management specialists with selected personal, financial, and farm operation characteristics of Tennessee MANAGE program participants and their rating of their perceived usefulness and effectiveness of extension financial management information
Date of Award
Master of Science
Agricultural and Extension Education
Cecil E. Carter Jr
Randol G. Waters, Clark D. Garland
The major purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between selected characteristics and usefulness and effectiveness perception ratings of the MANAGE participants in areas of perceived less effective area specialists with those characteristics and perceptions of participants in areas of perceived more effective area specialists. Data were collected through a mail survey which was part of a national assessment of farm financial educational programs. The survey was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of Extension financial management programs; the reasons producers used the Extension Service for financial management information and assistance; and types of financial management assistance and information agriculture producers utilized. Other data, such as gross farm income, non-farm income, and percent in debt were processed into the survey information from FINPACK analysis records by means of the farm operator codes used by area farm management specialists. In determining relationships between classifications of area specialists, state specialists were asked to rank the specialists by the way they perceived them to be effective farm management specialists. Two groups were used: group 1 was composed of area specialists perceived to be less effective, and group 2 was composed of area specialists perceived more effective. There were four area farm management specialists in each group.
The data were processed for computer analysis. The University of Tennessee Computing Center facilities were used to analyze the data. The chi square statistical test was used to determine significance of relationships between variables. The .05 level of probability was accepted as significant.
The major findings included:
1. The average age of participants responding was nearly 46. Almost 61 percent of the participants had past high school education with 34 percent holding college degrees. Approximately 66 percent had more than two contacts with Extension with an average of 5.1 contacts over the five year period. Over half of the participants indicated moderate to severe levels of financial stress. The average debt to asset ratio was 41.3 percent.
2. The majority of respondents were livestock producers (i.e., beef, dairy, swine) with nearly 27 percent involved in dairy production. The average number of crop acres on the participants' farms was 240 acres with an average annual gross income of $129,000; however, 60 percent of the participants reported they averaged less than $100,000. About two-thirds of the participants were full-time producers with no source of off-farm income.
3. The majority of participants selected the Extension Service because it was unbiased information that was recommended to them. Approximately 72 percent of the participants indicated they improved their financial management skills. About 56 percent of the participants indicated the information helped them increase their profits or reduce losses by more than $5,000. About 57 percent of the participants found the program helpful or very helpful, while nearly 49 percent indicated it was useful or very useful. During non-crisis times about 85 percent of the participants rated the program either valuable or very valuable. Nearly 57 percent indicated Extension should increase its emphasis on financial management education in the future.
4. The percent of participants that did not use the program in any given year decreased each year with a high of approximately 62 percent in 1984 to a low of 33 percent in 1988. In turn, the percentage of participants who repeatedly used the program (two or more times) increased each year from a low of nearly 27 percent in 1984 to a high of approximately 43 percent in 1987 which held at about 42 percent in 1988.
5. The three most frequently used topics of financial management information were long term financial planning. Nearly 63 percent of the participants used this topic with the mean of the score of responses being 3.41 out of a possible score of 4.0. Preparing cash flow statements ranked second with nearly 47 percent of the participants using this topic, with a mean score of the responses being 3.31 out of a possible score of 4.0. Understanding and improving record keeping ranked third in utilization by nearly 43 percent of the participants with the mean of the score of responses being 3.38 out of a possible score of 4.0.
6. The majority of participants used Extension financial management to make the following decisions: (1) nearly 41 percent used information to expand their operation; (2) nearly 38 percent to improve farm record keeping; (3) 36 percent to increase certain enterprises; (4) about 33 percent used information to change production practices or decrease or eliminate certain enterprises; (5) 20 percent used the information to add alternative enterprises; and (6) about 4 percent used Extension information to leave farming.
7. The 1987 and 1988 participants living in areas of group 2 area specialists had a tendency to use Extension information more frequently than participants living in areas of group 1 area specialists.
8. Participants living in areas of group 2 area specialists were more likely than participants living in areas of group 1 area specialists to rate Extension information and assistance helpful.
9. Participants experiencing none to slight levels of present financial stress were more likely than participants experiencing moderate to severe levels of financial stress to be located in areas staffed by group 2 area specialists.
Implications and recommendations also were included in this study.
Burns, Edward M., "The relationships of selected classifications of area farm management specialists with selected personal, financial, and farm operation characteristics of Tennessee MANAGE program participants and their rating of their perceived usefulness and effectiveness of extension financial management information. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 1992.