In 2004, Custom Ag Solutions developed and delivered the first of what would eventually be thousands of Beginning Producer presentations to beginning agricultural producers enrolled in agriculture education (Ag-Ed) programs throughout the nation. CAS works with FFA chapters and Ag-Ed teacher associations, first to coordinate and promote events and then to visit Ag-Ed classrooms and deliver presentations that inform, challenge, and entertain - all while improving participants' understanding of risk management and crop insurance.
During its first year (2004-2005), CAS visited over 50 Nevada and Wyoming Ag-Ed programs to reach well over 1,000 beginning producers. Over the next eight years (2005-2012), CAS delivered presentations to reach many thousands of participants in well over 1,000 locations across dozens of states, including Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. CAS has also had the privilege of presenting workshops and state FFA conventions in well over 20 states.
CAS' Beginning Producer presentations are customized for different regions and commodities. For example, some presentations emphasize livestock and forage commodities while others focus on greenhouse, dairy, or landscape crops. Whatever the commodities, CAS generally starts with an introduction to risk, risk management, and basic crop insurance principles. CAS also teaches participants that farm profitability can vary dramatically depending on 1) risk management decisions and 2) uncontrollable chance.
With this foundation, CAS begins a farm simulation game where each student makes operating and marketing decisions for 'their own' farm operation. For their first decision, each participant chooses what crops to produce. Players also choose whether to participate in simulated crop insurance programs that are structured just like real-world programs available in attendees' states. And, just like in the real world, participants sometimes go bankrupt. As they move through the simulation game, CAS' presenters weave in additional information about the availability and operation of Federal crop insurance programs. By the end of the 50-to-70 minute presentation, students gain a solid understanding of the importance of risk management and the value of Federal crop insurance programs.
CAS' presenters are professionals in the field of agricultural risk management. All presenters have bachelors degrees and most have masters degrees. CAS' presenters are experienced in delivering risk management education programs and interacting with beginning producers. Program and presenter references are available from FFA administrators and Ag-Ed teachers in several states.
CAS' Beginning Producer presentations are generally funded by the USDA's Risk Management Agency (RMA) and coordinated with state FFA associations and agriculture education teacher associations. Teachers or state FFA administrators interested in scheduling presentations are encouraged to contact CAS to discuss upcoming funding opportunities.