How Farmers Can End The Year The Right Way

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Hats and gloves are coming out of storage. Little ones everywhere are hoping for mountains and mountains of snow in their front yards.

Want to know who else is glad winter is here? Farmers.

After working from dawn to dusk through most of the year, they finally get a little bit of a break! The harvests are in, the equipment has been put away…and nothing really grows when it gets this cold anyway.

But if you’ve ever been around hardworking farmer types for long, you know that they don’t “sit around” very well. They might sleep in until 6 a.m. as a treat, but there’s still plenty to do. They’ve got to get ready for next year!

We’ve worked with plenty of farm owners over the years, handling a range of financial matters.

One thing we’ve learned from them is that even though there are busy seasons and slow seasons, the work never really stops. The end of the year is a good time to rest, but it’s also the best time to start planning.

4 THINGS FARMERS CAN DO NOW TO GET READY FOR 2021 

1. EXAMINE YOUR BUSINESS

It’s easy to spend so much time working at the farm that you can forget to work on it. You can’t afford to forget that your farm is a business. Before next year begins, take time to sit down and look at a few key areas:

  • Equipment – If your operation depends on certain tools or machines, are they clean and working well? Do they need servicing or replacing? If your equipment uses any software, make sure it’s up to date. Check the small things too: lights, tubes, pumps, nozzles. Ignoring this could cost you in unnecessary repairs, hassles, and lost time in the field.
  • Vendors – If you partner with suppliers or outsource work to others, are these relationships working well for you? Revisit contracts that may be expiring. Negotiate new rates if your needs have changed. Look for new partnerships if you need to.
  • Insurance – You’ve got to have it, so do you have the best rates? They’re constantly changing, so shop around. Especially be sure to revisit your crop insurance coverage with your agent. New plans and policies usually go into effect at the first of the year, so now is a good time to see if you could be saving some money.
  • Staffing Needs – We covered this topic in detail in a recent blog post, but it’s worth repeating here. Your employees can either be “your biggest money-makers or money-wasters.” Do you have the right employees in the right positions to help your farm business succeed in 2021? Take care of your team, and they will take care of your business. 

2. MAKE A BUDGET

“A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.” – John Maxwell

Before 2021 begins, sit down and realistically map out what you expect next year’s income and expenses to be. If you’ve been farming for a while, you probably have a good idea of how it should go. The costs of fertilizer, fuel, and seed should be fairly predictable. Obviously, you can’t plan for unknowns (that’s why a strong cash reserve is important), but a good budget will give you financial rails to run on and helps you pay attention to your numbers throughout the year. See our post, How to Get Out of the Farm Loan Cycle for more on this topic.

A good budget will help you spend your money wisely during the up and down cycles in your particular area of agriculture. When revenues are high, adjust your budget to pay off debts or improve equipment. When cycles bottom out, you may find a deals on new machines, livestock, or land. 

3. COMPLETE YOUR ARC/PLC ENROLLMENT

The Farm Service Agency of the USDA offers their ARC (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and PLC (Price Loss Coverage) programs as a way to protect American farmers from financial losses associated with significant drops in crop prices. You have until March 15, 2021 to enroll or make changes, and can find more information here.

4. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

In many ways, this is one of the most important things you can do as 2020 comes to a close. It has been a tough year, and you are probably more stretched and stressed than you realize. Simply pushing back from your work and doing things that recharge you could make all the difference.

Take a cue from nature. While your fields rest, you can too. Sleep in a little. Spend time with family and friends. Get away even if only for a day or two. Because when you’re better…your entire operation is better.

HOW CRS CAN HELP

Our team at CRS CPAs wants to see you and your farm succeed in 2021. These are just a few of the things wise farmers do. We can help with all of these and more. Give us a call to find out how we can lend a hand to make the coming year your best yet!

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Dec 23, 2020
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