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Open Books

Open Books is a peer-to-peer financial mentorship program designed to help farmers master financial recordkeeping and analysis through real-world application.

Participating farmers meet in small group settings on a regular basis to share business successes and challenges with one another. 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. Over time, Open Books participants will contribute to our collective understanding of the factors that contribute to economic viability and stability for non-commodity farms.

Project Goals

The goals of the program are:

  • to assist you in achieving greater profitability and a higher quality of life through a better understanding of your farm’s financial performance 
  • to enable you to share questions and concerns with a supportive group of peers
  • to enable you to lead and mentor others in the farming community 
  • to deepen regional farmers’ collective knowledge of factors that lead to successful non-commodity farms 

Program Eligibility

Farmers who will get the most out of Open Books are those who:

  • Operate a farm business in northern Illinois or southern Wisconsin
  • Have been producing and selling farm products for at least three years
  • Have reached annual sales of at least $15,000

    Farmers who meet the criteria above are encouraged to enroll below!

    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

    Farmer Commitment

    Open Books participants agree to:

    • Keep up with individual financial recordkeeping, including Open Books documents attend most circle meetings
    • Share farm financial information and discuss business successes and challenges with Open Books circle members
    • Respect the privacy of circle members and the confidentiality of their financial information
    • Be open to advice from circle members

    Interested but not ready to commit? 
    Sign Up for the Interest List! 
    Ready to get started?
    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.