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Doing A Better Job Keeping Farm Records

VCE Agricultural and Applied Economics: Management and Production Economics February1996

By Henry Snodgrass

Time for the New Year's resolution! "This year I am going to do a better job keeping my farm records!" Sound familiar? Too often farm records are a function of pressure to get taxes filed. Why? Because there is a $$ penalty for not doing so. If we stop and think about it, there are in many cases a cost for not keeping and using farm records in decision making. Did I earn more money on my beef steers I grazed or on the pumpkins I grew? Can I afford to buy a new truck to pull the goose-neck? Good records should be very important in making management decisions.

Getting into a routine is a good way to approach recording-keeping. Your bank statement is a good triggering mechanism. Within two days of receiving your bank statement, set aside one or two hours to reconcile your statements and catch up on the past month's records.

Records can be kept in a variety of ways. The important part is the quality of the information you record, not the method you use to record it. A stubby #2 pencil and a state of the art computer both can provide an excellent set of records. The Virginia Tech Farm Record Book or other similar systems work well. Using a computer record system may have the advantage of allowing you to manipulate the numbers, in varying the style or types of reports, or in allowing you to look at "what ifs." Either system is good and both have advantages and disadvantages, but neither will enter information without you!

The extension agent in your county or the extension farm management agent serving your county can assist you with setting up a working record system. The farm management agent will also be glad to work with you to analyze the farm operation from the previous years records and help you plan for the future.

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