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The Management Calendar
Farm Business Management Update, June/July 2003
By Gordon Groover
Well, where's summer? Last year we were heading into a drought and now we're wondering if land will dry enough to get corn planted and make the first cut of hay before the fourth of July. If you are not convinced that last year's drought is gone from the Eastern U.S. take a look at the NOAA Drought Monitor Forecasts web site http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/seasonal_drought.html.
Since you cannot change the weather, you can make good use of the downtime from wet fields to the following activities on your management calendar for June-July.
- Half the business year will soon be behind you, so a 6-month financial record checkup is in order. Updating your records through the month of June allows you to quickly gauge financial progress by comparing the farm's actual expenses and income to your budgeted amounts. If you did not develop a budget, compare your mid-year expenses and income to half the items reported on your 2001 Schedule F. Flag any items that are different from budgeted amounts. These differences are not necessarily problems, just items that need to be examined and explained.
- Watch your line-of-credit and compare it to previous years, watching for large changes from your past experiences.
- Production records for livestock and crops should be updated for the first half of the year. Look for big changes from last year and make sure to cross-reference these with production expenses.
- I often get questions about cow-calf record keeping software. Oklahoma State has a publication listing many of the important features and requirements of the major software packages. The publication Cow-Calf Production Record Software WR-3279 can be found at the following site: http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/exten/beef/WCR-3279/WCR-3279.pdf
- Update your marketing plan by collecting information on prices and world market situations. Be sure to check with your local Farm Service Agency for changes in government programs and signup deadlines. Review USDA and other crop and price forecasts. The following web site shows the dates for USDA Agency Reports Calendar release with links to the appropriate agency web sites: http://www.usda.gov/news/releases/rptcal/calindex.htm
- Even with the wet conditions, begin to update estimates of harvest time and yields and develop new plans for possible delays or shortfalls of forages for late harvest.
- You can find up-to-date information on your county's Loan Deficiency Program (LDP) and Posted County Price (PCP) at the following Farm Service Agency web site http://www.fsa.usda.gov/dafp/psd/ldp/default.htm
- Even with the time constraints of spring planting and getting ready for hay harvest, plan regular staff meetings with family members and employees to discuss work plans and set priorities for the next day/week. Consider brainstorming about alternative ways to deal with the soggy conditions and what might be alternatives to planting and harvesting times that have slipped beyond your comfort point.
- If you are considering direct marketing using the internet, take a look at USDA Agricultural Marketing Service's publication How to Direct Market Farm Products on the Internet at the following URL: http://www.ams.usda.gov/directmarketing/internet%20marketingf.pdf and take a look at other AMS resources at this URL: http://www.ams.usda.gov/directmarketing/publications.htm
- Check your credit rating in July and make this an annual event. Independence Day should remind you that you should be independent form identify theft and credit mistakes. All individuals and businesses should annually check and verify all information in their credit report. There are 3 main companies that track credit and will provide a copy of your credit report for a fee.
June-July marks the end of spring and the flurry of summer activities; enjoy!
Virginia Cooperative Extension