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Future heads of family farms dig into financials

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Some University of Missouri students preparing to return to the family farm are analyzing their own family finances for firsthand lessons in the economics of modern agriculture.

Agricultural economist Kevin Moore intentionally focuses on data in his "Returning to the Farm" class. Instead of working with combines or learning the proper chemical mixes of common fertilizers, Moore's students create business plans using their family's financial information.

The statistical approach could lead to a disheartening conclusion: The family farm may not survive another generation.

But the data-driven emphasis allows others the sort of systematic, long-term planning that their parents and grandparents could only approximate by scratching out financial estimates on a yellowed legal pad.

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