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Showing posts from May, 2017

Managing Farm Profit Margins - Join "The 5% Club"

By Don Nitchie, Extension Educator

A single 5% improvement may be easy to overlook, but you should not take this small improvement for granted. Increasing revenue 5% while also decreasing costs 5% can have a big impact on your bottom line.

The table below compares actual outcomes for the average Southwest Minnesota Farm Business Management Association farm in 2016, to the projected 2017 results for the average association farm if it joins “The 5% Club”. Our analysis of “The 5% Club” compares farm performance if the average association farm improves gross revenues by 5% and lowers operating costs by 5% over 2016 for 2017.

It is impressive how just these small changes result in Net Farm Income of an average farm more than doubling to $170,000 and Term Debt Repayment Capacity improves from 1.4 in 2016 to 2.4 in 2017. In 2016, the same 5% changes would have almost tripled Net Farm Income for the average farm. Therefore, small changes have a BIG impact on your bottom line. Attention to the…

Farm Machinery Cost Estimates Publication Updated

by William F. Lazarus, Extension Economist

An updated version of this publication is available online at www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/business/farm-financial-management/. The tables in this publication contain estimates of farm machinery operation costs calculated via an economic engineering approach. The data are intended to show a representative farming industry cost for specified machines and operations. The list of machines, the fuel price, and the labor rates are the same as last year.  Machinery prices continue to creep upward.

Have you tried the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (MACHDATA.XLSM) that goes with this publication?  It is available for downloading at z.umn.edu/machdata. The “Calculate” and “Self-propelled” sheets in this spreadsheet can be used to calculate costs for your own situation.

The spreadsheet can also be used to answer a variety of specific questions, such as:
Should I keep the machine I have for another year, or should I replace it now?
Which is the best si…

Outlook 2017 for Corn and Soybean Crops

by David Bau, Extension Educator

Farmers are just getting started planting their 2017 crops with hopes of good yields and good prices. There has been plenty of spring moisture and now the cropping season will take off in full swing when the soil dries out. Farmers have been blessed with two years in a row of record crops, will 2017 bring a third? The good yields have helped many farmers survive the low prices and small profits the past couple of years. In Southern Minnesota corn farmers in the Adult Farm Management programs have averaged losses on corn production since 2014, while they were able to generate small profits on soybean during this time.

Crop prices for 2017 corn are at $3.40 and soybean prices are $8.90 depending on your local basis. Farmers in my marketing groups have worked on their 2017 budgets and determined breakeven prices at $3.80 or above for corn and $10.10 or above for soybeans. The high futures price in December 2017 corn occurred on June 8, 2016 at $4.22 and fo…

Use Your Employee Handbook!

by Betty Berning Extension Educator
Does your farm have an employee handbook?  I’ve talked to many dairy farmers about employee handbooks this winter.  Many farms have a handbook, which is great!  However, farmers tell me they are unsure of how to use the handbook once it’s written.  Too often, employees don’t look at the handbook or farms forget they have it and the handbook collects dust on a shelf. 
An employee handbook can be a very valuable communication and labor management tool.I’d like to propose four reasons why your farm needs to not only have an employee handbook, but also needs to actively utilize it.
An employee handbook communicates what your farm is about- In other words, what is the culture of your farm?Business culture can be defined as values, beliefs, and behaviors that are typical of your farm. For example, if being on time is an important behavior on your farm, your handbook should reflect that.You might have a very firm policy on tardiness and missed work that is inc…