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The Management Calendar
Farm Business Management Update, August/September 2005
By Gordon Groover, Extension Economist, Farm Management, Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech
Farm business managers should consider putting the following activities on their management calendars for August-September.
- Hiring labor? Then you will need to get a copy of the new I-9 form. The Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9) has been updated to eliminate outdated references to the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and its parent agency, the Department of Justice. On March 1, 2003, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-296) transferred the functions of the former INS from the Department of Justice to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Aside from replacing outdated references to the Department of Justice and the former INS with references to DHS and its components, the current edition of Form I-9 is the same as the 11/21/91 edition. The edition date on the new Form I-9 reads "(Rev. 05/31/05)Y." Employers may meet their employment verification requirements under the law by completing a Form I-9 that has an edition date of either "(Rev. 5/31/05)Y," "(Rev. 05/31/05)N," or "(Rev. 11/21/91)N" in the lower right corner of the form. DHS is currently in the process of making substantive changes to the Form I-9 reflecting previous rulemakings. DHS plans to introduce a new Form I-9 at the end of this process. More information about the employment verification process and other employer-based immigration topics is available from USCIS' Office of Business Liaison at http://uscis.gov/graphics/services/employerinfo/eibulletin.htm. A copy of the new I-9 form can be found at http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/i-9.htm.
- Considering organic production and need help understanding the certification process? Contact Catherine Cash, recently hired by Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) as their organic specialist to help farmers with the organic certification process. Catherine Cash is an organic inspector, farmer, and a Virginia native. Catherine has been an organic inspector since 2001, a farmer since 1985, and is trained by and a member of IOIA, the Independent Organic Inspectors Association. Rodale Institute's "The New Farm" calls her "one of Virginia's best known independent organic inspectors." She has worked with and assisted large and small producers alike - from organic tobacco and grain producers in the southeast, organic meat processing facilities in the Shenandoah Valley, to beef and poultry operations in central Virginia. For help with organic or certification issues feel free to refer questions to her or contact her at
274 Seaman Lane
Montebello, VA 24464
- Interested in keeping up-to-date on economic topics affecting agriculture? Take a look at the June 2005 issue of Amber Waves. Items like "Will 2005 Be the Year of the Whole Grain?" is a good question considering that Atkins Nutritionals filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. What are the implications for farmers of one market for North America (U.S., Canada, and Mexico)? Take a look at the article titled "North America Moves Toward One Market." The June 2005 issue can be found at http://www.ers.usda.gov/amberwaves/June05/Features/
- Be sure to get your crop records in shape as harvest time approaches. Include yields, machine times and equipment used (this will help with next year's budgeting); identify weed problems and differences in hybrids. In addition to recording information on weeds, etc., think about labor constraints and bottlenecks slowing down tasks during the harvest season. Have employees and family members record problems and successes (maybe give them a cash payment for each problem identified) and when the crunch is over, spend a couple hours reviewing notes on what can be done next year to solve the problems and duplicate the successes. During the post-harvest review make sure the discussion centers on how to resolve problems, not who to blame.
- If you are looking for a listing of crop record keeping software, be sure to visit "Ropin' the Web," Alberta, Canada's Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development site at http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/econ4118?opendocument. This winter after harvest is completed, make sure you allow time to review inputs, yields, and management of each field. If you are using yield monitors, they are a ready source of information to analyze using a spreadsheet. Nutrient management plans require that applied nutrients closely follow expected crop removals. However, if farm-level records of yields/removals are not kept, then nutrient applications are driven by county or soil averages. Documentation of farm yields will allow silage and hay producers to profitably match nutrients with field-specific potentials. Consider ways to weigh wagons. If you live near a site with truck scales, weigh a few sample loads and use the results to better estimate yields. Consider purchasing a set of portable scales (less $2,000) that could be used to weigh all silage and hay crops. The added knowledge about nutrient removal and yields will allow you to make more profitable decisions.
- Always pay close attention to cash flow needs as you generate cash reserves during fall harvest and get ready for real estate and personal property taxes this winter. Almost all computerized recordkeeping software, e.g., Quicken¨ or Microsoft Money¨ and accounting software, e.g. QuickBooks¨ or FarmWorks, create cash flow reports that assist in managing cash available for debt service, family living, and cash expenses. Compare this year's cash flow to the budgeted amount and highlight deviations. If you did not develop a budget for this year, compare your inflows and outflow to last year's August totals. Make sure you have a series of possible plans to address any projected cash short falls. Projected surplus should be added to your retirement program, e.g., IRA's, 401-K's, or used to pay down debt.
- The time to make tax management decisions is quickly approaching. Make sure that you have set aside a few days in October to summarize all farm and family financial records and make an appointment now with your accountant to work on end-of-year tax management strategies.
Virginia Cooperative Extension