OPINION: By extension

A tractor safety training program will be offered March 11 at Marion High School. The program will allow 14- and 15-year-old youth in Marion County to work on a farm other than one owned or operated by their parents.

Steve Tonn and Mark Meyer will conduct the safety training. This will be the only time the class will be offered county wide.

Interested youth can enroll at the Marion County Extension Office. The office needs the name, address, birth date, Social Security number, phone number and the name of the parent or legal guardian along with $7 by March 3.

Materials for the class may be picked up at the Extension Office. Participants are asked to complete an assignment prior to the class.

The Marion County Extension Office is located in the Courthouse Annex, 200 S. Third Street, Marion, phone 316-382-2325.

The class will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at about 4 p.m. To complete the course, youth will need to attend the class and pass a written test and a driving test.

The law does not apply to youth who are to work on a farm owned or operated by immediate family members, nor does it apply to youth who are 16 years of age.

Those who were 14 and who completed the course last year will be qualified without taking the course again this year.

— Ag financial counseling available. The Kansas Agricultural Mediation Service, in conjunction with the Cooperative Extension Service, Kansas State University, and several private individuals, can offer agricultural financial counseling to Kansas farmers and ranchers in one of two ways.

First the Kansas Agricultural Mediation Service works with the Extension Service and Kansas State University to provide ag financial counselors to clients at little or no cost to the client.

These counselors, with access to a computer program called ?FinPack,? provide hands-on assistance and advice.

The FinPack program is specifically designed to help analyze the profitability and feasibility of farm and ranch operations. It has proven to be a valuable tool in working with banks and other lending institutions when trying to get a loan, or when negotiating the restructure of a loan.

The second source of financial counseling is through a network of private financial consultants across the state that have worked with Kansas Agricultural Mediation Service clients over the years.

The private financial consultants work directly with the farmer/rancher and their Kansas Legal Services attorney to develop financial plans and options as they negotiate a restructure of their ag loans or as they negotiate obtaining a loan to enhance or continue their operation.

The services of the private financial consultant are paid out of the funding for the Kansas Legal Services through the Kansas Ag Mediation Service so there is no cost to the Kansas Ag Mediation Service client.

— Farm labor workshop In Newton. The Harvey County Extension Council will conduct a Farm Labor Workshop on March 8 at the Harvey County Courthouse Community Room.

The workshop registration is due by March 6 by calling 316-283-6930.

The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. Workshop topics will be ?When is labor justified?? ?Hiring and Recruiting Farm Labor,? ?Keeping Good Farm Labor,? ?Labor Records and Reducing Paper Work Headaches? and a panel discussion by farm operators.

A noon meal will be provided.

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