With the current economic downturn, farmers may want to scrutinize the future of their operations.

A financial planning tool offered by Ohio State University Extension is available to help them do just that.

FINPACK, or Farm Financial Planning and Analysis, is a nationally known agricultural software package designed to help farm planning and credit analysis, as well as evaluate the financial position of a farm.

It also helps users explore business alternatives and improve business decisions.

FINPACK was launched by the University of Minnesota in the 1970s, and OSU Extension has offered the tool to farmers, Extension educators, lenders, and other agricultural professionals since 1984.

Dianne Shoemaker, an OSU Extension dairy specialist and Ohio's FINPACK program leader, says that financial planning is a high priority in any business. With the current economy, FINPACK might prove to be even more valuable for users in making financial decisions.

FINPACK is comprises several components: balance sheets, business analysis, monthly or annual cash flow projections, long range plans and historic trend reports.

Farmers can use one or more of the components, depending on the needs of their business.

OSU Extension offers FINPACK programs and training workshops every year, in addition to keeping users informed of software updates through Web casts.

For more information on FINPACK or upcoming OSU Extension events offering FINPACK, contact Shoemaker at (330) 263-3799 or e-mail shoemaker.3@osu.edu.