There are many financial challenges to farming so having the right software system is crucial for long term success. Kevin and Renee Brown farm over 2200 acres in southeastern South Dakota and can tell you that the software plays a key role. “We used Quicken® and Microsoft Money for years and neither provided the information we needed for year-end reports and tax preparation,” states Renee. Most farmers will experiment with off-the-shelf accounting software and try to modify it for agriculture. In most cases it becomes a frustrating experience that wastes time and money.
The Browns recommend taking charge of your software by seeking help. Options include doing your homework on the internet, visiting a software booth at your local farm show, or finding a certified dealer who can help support the product after the purchase. “We first became acquainted with Farm Works™ in 2007 at the Dakota Farm Show. Farm Works had a booth and their experts walked us through the accounting and field records software while answering our questions. It appeared to be very user friendly and was clear that it would give us the data we were looking for,” says Renee.
The parts of the software that the Browns were most interested in were the reports on their cost per field, also known as Enterprise Statements. Enterprise Statements in Farm Works are very unique compared to other software. Farm Works provides Enterprise Statements for each field, machine, person, livestock group, and structure. This way the profitability can be analyzed throughout the growing season by field, crop, or farm to help verify that they are making the right choices. Kevin explains, “The Enterprise Statements are useful in determining the profitability of each field and farm. You can analyze different variables like ownership versus renting, planting corn on corn versus planting corn to soybean rotation, and other management practices. You can also track the cost per acre during the growing season.”
Training classes are also an option to gain additional experience with the software. Farm Works offers classroom and online training for basic and advanced users. Renee recommends that every farmer sit through a training class offered by Farm Works to prevent frustrations. “I attended a basic class in Sioux Falls my first year and then followed it with an advanced class the following year. That was very helpful in getting the program set up and running,” says Renee.
One of the biggest challenges that face the Browns is dealing with the rapid inflation of land costs and inputs. Kevin states, “Land prices in South Dakota have increased to over 300 percent in the last ten years, so it is more important than ever to manage every part of your operation. Young people simply can’t start farming without assistance.” The Browns are hopeful that their sons, Ross and Levi, will transition into the farm someday, but the fierce competition of land makes it difficult. Fortunately for the Browns they took charge of their accounting in 2007 so the transition will be easier to handle.