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Open Books

Open Books is a project designed to help non-commodity farmers master farm financial record keeping and analysis through real-world application. 

Farm financials are vital to the success of a farm business, but can be difficult to tackle without the proper training. With support from a group of farmer peers and professionals, Open Books helps farmers assess financial statements, organize their finances, and take control of their farm's financial performance! 

In Open Books participating farmers meet periodically to share business successes and challenges with one another over the course of 3 years. Participants learn how to use financial ratios and benchmarks to identify strengths and weaknesses of their businesses and to make management decisions that increase profit and improve quality of life.

Project Goals

  • To assist farmers in achieving greater financial viability and a higher quality of life
  • To enable experienced farmers to become financial mentors to others in the farming community
  • To deepen our collective knowledge of non-commodity farm financial trends in our region

Application Criteria

Farmers who meet the following criteria are encouraged to apply:

  • Currently operate a farm business in northern Illinois or Wisconsin 
  • Have been producing and selling farm products for at least three years 
  • Had gross farm revenue of at least $15,000 in 2017

Open Books Benefits

  • Improve your financial recordkeeping skills
  • Learn how to use financial analysis tools to boost your bottom line
  • Share financial challenges with other farmers in a confidential setting
  • Receive referrals to business and financial professionals

Participant Commitment

Open Books participants agree to:

  • Share farm financial information with Open Books group members
  • Be open to advice from group members
  • Respect privacy of group members and agree not to disclose any financial information
  • Attend 2-3 in-person meetings per year and actively participate in the program for 3 years
  • After 1 (or 2) year of participation in this program, consider mentoring one or more beginning farmers during the second year
  • Use our financial record keeping tool 

Enroll in Open Books Today!

    Questions? Send our Farmer Training Department an email or call us at 815-389-8455

    Jen Riemer

    I would recommend Open Books to other farmers, beginning and experienced alike.
    We have been farming for over 7 years now and I wish I had used this resource from the beginning.
    It could have helped us make better decisions and potentially use our resources more efficiently.

     - Jen Riemer, Riemer Family Farm
    Jen became an Open Books Farmer in 2017



     The Open Books program is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2016-70017-25373.