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The Management Calendar
Farm Business Management Update, October/November 2003
By Gordon Groover
Last year we were concerned about managing drought conditions related to crops and livestock. Now a majority of the state is concerned with getting back on its feet after the devastating effects of hurricane Isabel. Listed below are selective disaster information and web sites at USDA that maybe helpful. The main USDA Disaster Assistance Program site is http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov/. This site has information for the national level and for specific programs. It may not have all the details about program implementation, but it will be useful for informing farmers about eligibility, where to apply, and deadlines. Local FSA offices may not have the details about programs when press releases are posted to this site. Local FSA offices do not get information until all procedures are in place to accept applications for a specific program. For additional information on disaster programs see the article Potential Assistance Programs after a Natural Disaster in this months issue.
Farm business managers should consider putting the following activities on their management calendar for October-November.
- Once the crops are harvested, get the farm financial records summarized, updating the third quarter cash flow and comparing them to your projections. Watch for problems. Actual inflows or outflows that differ from your projections may not signal a problem, but understanding why there are differences helps you understand changes in the farm business.
- Using the last three quarters of cash flow and financial records, estimate total farm expenses, income, and capital purchases and sales. Then make an appointment with your tax advisor to plan year-end tax management strategies. Be sure to estimate crop insurance payments and any government payments that will appear on this year's taxes. To fully take advantage of year-end tax management strategies, farmers must make decisions before December 31, 2003. Be sure to review changes to state and federal tax laws with your tax advisor to make sure you have not missed deductions and/or credits.
- Farm business managers should never loose sight of the two objectives of tax management: 1) all decisions, including tax management, should be make to improve the long-term survivable and profitability of the businesses, and 2) tax management tools are used to level out the year-to-year swings in reported income and subsequent taxes paid. The multitude of tools and techniques written into the tax code for farmers and all businesses can be used to manage income and expenses to even out the wide swings in annual profits and losses that many farmers experience. Leveling out the income tax liabilities year-to-year will lead to lower total taxes being paid.
- Be sure to keep crop records up-to-date during harvest, include yields, machine times and equipment used, weed problems, and differences in hybrids.
- Be sure to keep livestock records up-to-date during fall sales. At a minimum, include weight, grade, sale prices, and identification numbers of all calves sold and/or purchased.
- Be sure to check on crop insurance policies. A list on agents in your area can be found at the following site: http://www3.rma.usda.gov/apps/agents/
- Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced September 30, 2003 that the enrollment for the 2004 Direct and Counter-cyclical Program (DCP) will begin Oct. 1. Note: Producers must sign contracts annually under the DCP. Contact your local FSA office for additional details and signup procedures. Local offices can be found at the following http://oip.usda.gov/scripts/ndisapi.dll/oip_agency/index?state=va&agency=fsa
Other useful information to farmers and professionals
- Virginia Statistics: Virginia Agricultural Statistics Service has published their annual Virginia Agricultural Statistics Bulletin which is available at http://www.nass.usda.gov/va/bulletin2003.pdf. This publication summarizes a vast array of agricultural production and economic information for 2002.
- Results of the Milker Wage Survey conducted by Gregorio Billikopf Encina University of California can be found at the following URL: http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor/7research/7res05.htm. The study highlights responses from 112 farms, 46 were from the West; 37 from the Midwest; 10 from the Southeast; and 19 from the Northeast. Milker wages in 2000 were $9.26 and today they have remained the same, at $9.25. An improvement in this year's survey, however, allowed us to get some important details to make these numbers more useful. It was up to each dairy farmer to pick one milker, and give us the number of years on the job for that person. As a result we found that average wages were dependent on number of years on the job. Milkers employed for less than three years were earning an average of $7.74 per hour. Those employed between 3.5 and 6 years, were earning from $8.6 to $10, respectively. In some instances--in some parts of the U.S.--milkers working 7 or more years were earning $11 per hour. Other interesting findings deal with the number of foreign-born milkers vs. women working as milkers, and other details.
Virginia Cooperative Extension