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The Management Calendar
Farm Business Management Update, February/March 2003
By Gordon Groover
It has been a good year to stay inside and get the paperwork done. Snow, wind, and bitter cold temperatures should have served as an incentive to stay inside by the warm glow of the computer screen. If you have not started on the paperwork, remember the first day of spring is less than 2 months away. Listed below are the items that need to be included on the farm business managers' calendar for the first quarter of 2003.
- Get the farm's 2002 financial records closed out: Post all income and expenses paid during 2002 in your record book or accounting software. There's still time to conduct an end-of-the-year inventory of all the farm assets and liabilities to provide data for the farm's net worth statement.
- Using your 2002 records, develop an itemized list of income and expenses. The categories found on the IRS Schedule F can serve as a starting point for estimating net income for the farm business. Compare your results to previous years, looking for both weakness and strengths. Decide how much you'll contribute to an IRA for 2002 and set goals for 2003.
- Seek assistance from Virginia Cooperative Extension's farm business management agents, lenders, or your accountant to develop a detailed financial analysis of your farm business, including the major 16 financial ratios. Send me an e-mail message if you want me to send you the recommended 16 financial ratios (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Dairy farmers with good financial records please take note: You can enter your farm's production and financial records and compare your farm to the U.S. Top Dairies Financial Benchmarks. The WWW address is http://www.cpdmp.cornell.edu/Data.4D$TDWelcome. Once reaching the "Benchmarks" page, click on "I wish to become a registered user and submit my information." This link will take you to the data entry area. There are currently 1,393 dairy farms in the national database.
- Using last year's financial and production records, finalize your projected budgets, cash flow, and income statements for 2003.
- Take your 2002 financial records and 2003 projected whole-farm budgets and cash flow statements to your lender to discuss line-of-credit needs and plans for 2003.
- Grain and livestock producers should have their marketing strategies/plan in place for 2003 marketing year. Be sure to check with your local Farm Service Agency for changes in government programs and signup deadlines.
- March 15 is the cutoff date for signing up for most crop insurance polices in Virginia. Detailed listings of all policy closing dates are listed at the following site http://www.rma.usda.gov/data/sales-closing-dates/. Details on crop insurance are best discussed with a local agent. You can locate a local agent by visiting the following web site http://www3.rma.usda.gov/tools/agents/.
- Make sure your federal taxes are mailed by March 1, unless you pay estimated taxes, then the deadline is April 15. Virginia income tax returns must be postmarked by May 1.
- Prepare your crop and livestock record keeping system for a new year. If you are interested in a listing of agricultural related software packages go to the following site: http://www.agric.gov.ab.ca/agdex/agsoft/.
- Beef cattle producers interested in an evaluation of beef cattle software should take a look at the following publication from the Oklahoma State Animal Science Department. http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/exten/beef/WCR-3279/WCR-3279.html.
2003 appears to be starting off a little better than last year, Virginia along with most of the east coast have much higher surface and ground water levels. The U.S. Drought Monitor site (http://drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html) indicates that the drought is over.
Virginia Cooperative Extension