Introduction 1

The Computer as a Farm
Management Tool
Whole Farm Planning 5
Goal Setting 7
Human Resource
Skills Assessment
Production Management and
Budgets & Financial Planning 8
Marketing & Sales
Farm Management Tools
at a Glance
Throughout Washingt on, Oregon and
Idaho, as in the rest of the count ry, small
and medium scale producers st ruggle t o
achieve profit abilit y wit hin the domi-
nant food market ing system. While di-
rect market ing has offered many of
t hese producers a promise of higher
economic ret urns and innumerable qual-
it y of life benefit s, the opport unit ies for
many are dependent on a new level of
farm management. Not only does farm
direct market ing necessit at e new skills
t hat may or may not be inherent to t he
“product ion” focused individual, but it
adds a new level of complexity t o plan-
ning and scheduling for a variet y of
farm direct market ing venues.
To survive as a small scale producer
and direct market er it is increasingly
import ant to have a framework for re-
cording personal, product ion, and finan-
cial informat ion to help manage and
evaluat e aspect s of the farm business.

Farmers looking for ways to improve
farm management skills have an array of
“tools” available to t hem: manuals or
gui des, educat ional programs or curric-
ula, int ernet resources, and comput er
programs. The goal of t his publicat ion is
t o introduce you t o t he t ype of informa-
t ion different tools provide.
Select ing the appropriat e tools will
depend on the operator’s skills and
goals for the farming operat ion. Re-
sources or program choices will be
based on the needs of each farmer and
must be assessed individually.

Northwest Di rect combines re-
search and extensi on to:
• Document our locally based
food system
• Develop and demonstrate case
studies of far mers who utilize
direct marketing
• Foster the expansion and suc-
cess of far mers markets
• Address regulatory and infra-
structure barriers to direct
Cinda Willi ams, Extension S upport
Scientist and Coordi nator for
Sustai nable Agriculture,
Plant, Soi l and Entomologic al
Sciences, University of Idaho

Nancy Taylor, former research asst.
Agricul tural Economic s and Rural
Sociology, University of Idaho

John Foltz, Dean of Ac ademic
Programs and Professor of
Agricul tural Economic s, AERS,
University of Idaho

Ariel Agenbroad, Programs
Graduate Assi stant in S ustainable
Agricul ture and Smal l Farms, PSES,
University of Idaho

Published by the University of Idaho
as part of Northwest Direct , funded
by the USDA Initiative for Future
Agricul ture and Food Systems
Farm Management Tools
for the Small Acreage Producer
Table of Contents:

Many of t he t ools list ed in this pub-
licat ion are websit es and comput er pro-
grams, which necessit ate t he use of and
familiarity wit h comput ers. Comput er
use as a management t ool among farm-
ers is increasing.
For many farmers, the paper shuf-
fling required t o manage finances and
records is oft en t he hardest part of the
farm business to maintain. For this rea-
son, many farmers are now incorporat-
ing comput ers and soft ware as tools to
facilit ate management and maint enance
of their farm business.
According t o a report released by the
Nat ional Agricult ural St at ist ics Service
of USDA, farms using comput ers for
t heir farm business increased signifi-
cant ly from 1997 to 2003 (Table 1, p 3).
During this period small farms with
sales ranging from $1,000 to $9,999
have shown an increase in comput er
ownership and Int ernet access for farm
business fast er t han ot her income
groups (Table 2, page 3).
However, many farmers are st ill
st ruggling wit h the adopt ion and use of
comput ers as a management t ool. A
quest ionnaire complet ed by 38 farmers
at t wo small farm conferences in Idaho
in 2003 indicat ed t hat most of t hese
farmers do not current ly use comput er
programs for farm management. Barri-
ers for t hese and other farmers are t he
comput er skill required t o navigat e and
work wit h the soft ware and t he t ime
necessary to dedicate t o this aspect of
farm management. Manual programs or
record-keeping syst ems are oft en more
accessible, less expensive, and easier to
learn for small farms that don’t have as
much informat ion to t rack.
There are significant advant ages for
farmers once a soft ware program is in
place as a regular funct ion of farm
management . Records and financial in-
format ion are easily updat ed and can be
aut omat ically calculat ed in a format t hat
is easy t o access for business analysis.
Many programs t ie product ion records
wit h financial aspect s and allow farmers
t o compare cost s of product ion for dif-
ferent farming pract ices. They could
also be used t o evaluate and compare
t he cost s and benefit s of market ing
st rat egies, in much the same way.
Wit h the increasing use of comput ers
as a tool for farm management, farmers
must consider t he appropriate select ion
of soft ware programs. There are many
soft ware programs that can provide
farmers wit h farm management t ools,
however soft ware feat ures and capabili-
t ies vary from program to program.
Therefore, it is import ant t o ident ify the
feat ures that are import ant for your
management needs. For example, some
programs are geared to managing de-
t ailed informat ion more suit ed t o large
farm operat ions, such as machine hours
and cost s. However, t he size of the farm
is not the determining fact or, rather, t he
t ype of funct ional feat ures needed t o
manage t he specific farm operat ion.
Most likely, no soft ware will be able
t o do everything that you want it t o do,
and a combinat ion of programs and ap-
plicat ions may work best t o cust omize a
syst em t o fit your needs.
In the end, whether you select a man-
ual or comput erized program, it is t he
accuracy of the informat ion maint ained
t hat is most import ant .
(Refer to Table 3. Farm Management
Tools at a Glance, pages 12-13).

Where to find the right software
A good resource when considering a
soft ware program specifically designed
t o manage a farm business is t he Albert a
Ag Soft ware Direct ory:
$depart ment /dept docs.nsf/all/econ4118?
This direct ory list s several soft ware
The Computer as a Farm Management Tool
Farm Management Tools Page 2

Questions Farmers and
Ranchers may ask when
considering a software
management program:

What are the computer
skills necessary?

How difficult will it be to
learn the software?

Who will provide technical

How long will it take to
input the

How do I know if the com-
puter and software will
manage the information that
I need?

What informati on do I need
to mai ntain to make my
farm more profitabl e and
effici ent?

Will using a computer really
make a difference to my
bottom line?

...continued on Page 4

State & Number of Farms
Farms that own or
lease computers
Farms using computers
for farm business
Farms with internet access

1997 2001 2003 1997 2001 2003 1997 2001 2003
Idaho 24,500
36% 74% 77% 21% 46% 46% 12% 62% 62%
Oregon 40,000
52% 73% 76% 30% 43% 49% 22% 59% 72%
Washington 40,999
46% 63% 66% 30% 38% 39% 19% 54% 60%
Western Regi on i ncl udi ng: AZ, CA,
4% 63% 66% 30% 38% 39% 19% 54% 60%
Western Region Production
Type & Income Level
Farms that own or
lease computers
Farms using computers
for farm business
Farms with internet access

1997 2001 2003 1997 2001 2003 1997 2001 2003
Crop Production System
53% 62% 63% 38% 41% 43% 23% 54% 59%
Livestock Production System
39% 65% 66% 22% 38% 39% 16% 56% 60%
Income: $1, 000- 9,999
46% 63% 63% 17% 31% 31% 16% 55% 57%
Income: $10,000-99,000
47% 55% 62% 34% 37% 42% 16% 55% 58%
Income: $100,000 & over
66% 78% 79% 62% 66% 68% 30% 66% 70%
Table 2. Computer Usage According to Production Type and Income Level
Table 1. Farm Computer Usage and Ownership
The following charts illustrate computer ownership and usage by producers in the past 8 years.
It is broken down by state, type of production system and farm income level.
For the complete report, visit
Farm Management Tools Page 3

and links to t heir own soft ware demonstrat ion websit es. Farmers can also request a
sample CD from t he soft ware company t hat can be used t o assess t he merit s of a
part icular soft ware program for t heir operat ion before purchasing it . The sit e links
t o programs most appropriat e t o commodit y farm operat ions but can provide infor-
mat ion on array of ent erprises and soft ware feat ures.

General Business Management Software

The following are a couple of soft ware programs t hat are commonly used by
farmers t o manage the whole farm or cert ain aspect of the farm business.

Qui cken
Int uit Inc. 2632 Marine Way, MS2700 Mount ain View, CA 94039 (650) 944-6000 or htt p:// s_service/
This is a basic, inexpensive account ing ONLY program ($60.00) t hat is widely
used by farmers because it is easy to use. Int uit , t he developer of Quicken, has been
in operat ion for years and provides t echnical support through it s websit e or by
phone for a fee. They cont inue to produce annual upgrades to the Quicken soft-
ware. The program can be set up for farming or livest ock ent erprises using classes
and sub-classes. It does not provide manual worksheet s or t rack field records. It
does have general ledger/check writ ing wit h t he added advant age of being able t o
download bank statement s and pay bills online. More expensive versions of
Quicken also do payroll and have t he flexibilit y of being able to select desired infor-
mat ion att ribut es in financial report s.

Ot her resources for Quicken:
“Farm Financial Records Mat erials Links” by Damona Doye
http://www.agecon.okst at m

Downloadable t utorial for Quicken 2001 and 2002
http://www.mont ensionecon/family/ ml

Qui ckbooks
Int uit Inc. 2632 Marine Way, MS2700 Mount ain View, CA 94039 (650) 944-6000) uit .com/personal/
Quickbooks, also developed by Int uit, cost s bet ween $180-$300 depending on
whet her you get the basic or Pro version. Quickbooks offers farms a full business
package that includes t racking inventory, sales orders, and account s receivable and
payable, in addit ion to on-line services for invoicing and accept ing credit cards.
Quickbooks also has built -in business planning and forecast ing tools based on your
finances. Quickbooks does not track product ion records. Quickbooks feat ures have
t he advantage of being able to manage invent ory and sales for value-added product s
produced on-farm.

Ot her resources for Quickbooks t ut orials: s/cbkhome.htm

Quickbooks Farm Account ing Links ml

Quickbooks downloadable t eaching mat erials:
http://ret m
Page 4 Farm Management Tools
Producer Profile
at e Paint er raises
lambs on 12 acres in
Colfax, WA for her farm-
based web business,
Paradise Fibers. She
specializes in supplying
fleece and ot her supplies
for hand spinners. Kate
uses Quicken to manage
her farm business check
regist er because it is
easier t o use t han the
double ent ry syst em t hat
Quickbooks requires. She
also uses Quickbooks t o
manage Paradise Fibers
sales and invent ory
because she likes the
online invoicing and
credit card capabilit ies.

Many farmers we have
t alked wit h throughout t he
life of t his project have
indicat ed t hey use
Quicken or Quickbooks as
t heir farm management
soft ware. It ’s widespread
availability and low cost
are oft en cited as reasons
for it s popularit y.

Whole Farm Planning

In order to know what types of man-
agement program is right for your op-
erat ion, it is import ant to ident ify your
needs, based in part on what your goals
and plans are for your farm business.
One of t he most import ant tools for
successful whole farm management is
t he business plan. Too oft en farmers
charge ahead wit h planning t he produc-
t ion part of farming while leaving out
other aspect s of the farm business, such
as finance, market ing and sales. A busi-
ness plan can be used as a t ool for farm-
ers to think about and plan for each as-
pect of t he farm as part of t he whole. A
writ t en business plan serves as a guide
or road map for current and fut ure farm
management decisions. A well-
developed business plan int egrat es goals
wit h skills and resource assessment for
t arget ed financial, product ion, market -
ing and sales st rategies. The t ime taken
t o develop a business plan is well wort h
t he effort ; not only can it be used as a
decision making t ool but it can also be
used t o secure business loans.

Whole Farm Planning Software

Teegardin, N. (1992). PO Box 250
Hamilton, IN 4642-0250 (212)488-3492
Developed by an Indiana farmer, this
program links account ing records wit h
product ion records to creat e a fully inte-
grat ed package t hat start s at $500 for t he
Farm Trac record keeping and Farm
Fund account ing modules. It also has
livestock and GPS mapping modules
t hat can be purchased and int egrat ed
into the program. The company CTN
Dat a is t en years old and provides free
t echnical support on-line via t heir web-
sit e or by phone for a fee.
The Farm Works program comes
wit h an audio/visual t utorial program
t hat is helpful t o visual learners. This
program has t radit ionally been used by
larger farms but is also appropriat e for
smaller farms. It is reasonably inexpen-
sive for what it does compared t o other
farm account ing and record keeping
soft ware.
Farm Works has mapping and layer-
ing capabilit ies for fields t hat are linked
t o t he general ledger account ing pro-
gram t o keep field and/or herd hist ories,
and input cost s. Machinery and labor
cost are maint ained and linked t o fields
where they are used. The program also
has check writ ing, payroll capabilit ies,
and has flexibility in creat ing financial
report s.

Cent er for Farm Financial Management
University of Minnesot a

FINPACK will help you evaluat e
your financial sit uat ion, explore alt erna-
t ives, and make informed decisions
about t he fut ure direct ion of your farm.

Whole Farm Business Planning Publications

Planning Your Business: Alternati ve
Agri cul tural Enterpri ses.
Makus, L. D., Foltz, J. C., and Davis B.
B. (1993) (CIS 978). Moscow: Univer-
sit y of Idaho College of Agricult ure,
Cooperat ive Ext ension Syst em, Agricul-
t ural Experiment St at ion

Business ownershi p Alternati ve Agri-
cul tural Enterprises
Fox, L. K. (1992) (CIS 939). Moscow:
University of Idaho College of Agricul-
t ure, Cooperat ive Ext ension Syst em,
Agricult ural Experiment St at ion

Departmentalization: a useful man-
agement tool for your fi rm
Folt z, John and Wilson, Christ ine. Feed
& Grain. (Aug/ Sept 2002).

Farm Management Tools Page 5

Before purchasing farm
management software,
producers may first consi der
the foll owing points:

Purpose: What do you want to
accomplish with the software? Do you
want some simple accounting software
or do you want to track production and
applications records? If you want to do
both, you will most likely need
integrated farm management software.
Internet access is also useful for all
types of research from computer
software to production questions.

Cost: What will it cost to buy computer
software? Prices for farm management
software or simple accounting software
ranges from $50-$2,000 depending on
what you want to accomplish with the
software package.

Company’s reputation and technical
support for software: How long has the
company been in business? Will the
company be able to assist you with
i n stal la t ion , so f tware te chn ica l
questions and upgrades? What is the
cost for these services?

Ease and frequency of use: Do other
farmers use this software program?
How much time does it take to input the
information? Is it easy to use?

Hardware and software requirements
and compatibility: Will your computer
be able to run the software you have
selected? Computers and software
programs are continually changing to
incorporate faster processor speeds
with Internet access.

Portability and expandability: Do you
want to be able to input information
while working in the field? If so, you
may want to consider software that is
compatible with a handheld computer,
or a laptop with docking station. You
may also want to consider software that
is compatible with GPS guidance
systems or digital cameras.


Idaho Small Business Devel opment Center htt p://
WA Small Business Development Center http://www.
Oregon Small Business Devel opment Center htt p://

Provides low cost or no cost business planning assist ance t o small business own-
ers and managers, home-based businesses, invent ors wit h a product to develop and
market, manufact urers, ret ail, wholesale, service companies, and agricult ural or
nat ural resource vent ures.

Farm Business Planning Course

Ti l ling the Soil of Opportuni ty: NxLevel Gui de for Agri cul tural Entrepreneurs
(ISBN: 1-890730-08-4) Aut hors: Wold, C., Sumner, H., Schlake M., Gott wals, P.J.
Nx Level Training Net work, Utah Small Business Development Cent er,
Salt Lake Community College
Phone 801-253-3526 Websit e: ht tp://

This t en week course and manual are available t hrough your local Small Busi-
ness Development Cent er that can help farmers assess their ent repreneurial skills
and develop t heir own farm business plan.

Websites and On-line Publications

Successful Whole Farm Pl anning;
The Minnesot a Project , Loni Kemp, 1996
http://www.mnproject .org/Text /swfp.html#GOALS

Whole Farm Pl anning : Combi ning Famil y Profit and Envi ronment,
University of Minnesot a Extension Service, BU-06985, 1998,
http://www.ext ribut ion/businessmanagement /DF6985.html

Holisti c Management: A Whole Farm Decisi on Maki ng Framework
ATTRA publicat ion t ra-pub/PDF/holist ic.pdf

Whole Farm Pl anning for Economic and Envi ronmental Sustainabili ty
Rhonda Janke, Kansas St at e Universit y, 2000, 2/MF2403.pdf

Business management tool from Bri tish Col umbia Ministry of Agri cul ture /bus_t ools/index.htm
An excellent websit e wit h downloadable worksheet s and overall planning t ools

Cornell Business Management Publi cations y/afs_t emp2.cfm?t opicID=28
Overall Business management publicat ions and informat ion for small farms cov-
ering: communit y relat ions, business plans, farm t ransit ion, farmland prot ect ion,
financing your farm, managing labor, risk management , t axes, cooperat ive business
management , hort icult ural business, dairy, and value added business management .
Farm Management Tools Page 6

Goal setting: planning for
the road ahead

Goal Setting
Ident ifying and set t ing farm business
goals is a crucial st ep before st art ing a
farm business plan. Goal sett ing can as-
sist in direct ing management decisions
according t o priority. If you already have
a farm business, you might consider reas-
sessing your goals periodically to see if
t hey are on track or in need of change.
The process of goal sett ing may need to
be done wit h the cooperat ion of family
members, since t he business of farming
oft en involves t he family. Goals are per-
sonal since t hey reflect individual and or
family values, beliefs, available resources,
and unique opport unit ies or limit at ions.
They can be int angible, or t angible; t hey
can be long-t erm, short -t erm or monet ar-
ily based. Goal sett ing should include
writ t en st at ement s t hat out line specific
t asks that are achievable and act ion ori-
ent ed along with a t imeline. Here are
some publicat ions that can assist farmers
wit h t he goal sett ing process.

Relevant Publications
Expl ori ng the Small Farm Dream:
Is starting an agricultural business
for you?
Hayes, Kathryn, UMass Donahue Inst .
New England Small Farm Inst it ut e
PO Box 937, Belchert own, MA 01007
A handbook filled wit h pract ical as-
sessment tools to help you det ermine
which type of agricult ural business is
right for you, your family and your farm.
This was designed t o be the first st ep to-
wards new farmer educat ion.

Goal Setting for Farm and Ranch
Famil ies Doye, D.. Oklahoma St at e Uni-
versit y Ext ension Fact s (WF-244). Coop-
erat ive Ext ension Service, Division of
Agricult ural Sciences and Nat ural Re-

The Integrated Farm and Resource
Management Pl an (IFARM)
Cent er for Rural Affairs. PO Box 406,
Walt hill, NE (402)846-5428
Compiled by: Joy Johnson
This is a manual program t hat is inex-
pensive at $50.00. Developed by the Cen-
t er for Rural Affairs as a do-it -yourself
farm goal and resource assessment tool. It
provides worksheet s for financial report s
on crops and livestock. This program is
easy t o use wit h inst ruct ions t hat walk you
t hrough 25 sect ions covering farm goal
sett ing t o environment al assessment. It
does not include record keeping, general
ledger/check writ ing, or payroll capabili-
t ies. This is a tool for farmers t o assess
current management of finances, market s
and resources that don’t have a comput er
and want to plan for t he fut ure.

Relevant Websites

Whole Farm Planning at Work:
Successful Stories of Ten Farms
The Minnesot a Project , 1998,
http://www.mnproject .org/pdf/st udies.pdf

Human Resource Skills Assessment
Once farm goals have been ident ified, it
is import ant to assess the available human
resource and skills and what is necessary
t o move the farm business t owards ident i-
fied goals. Few people have all t he skills
necessary to manage a farm. In order t o
efficient ly manage a farm, cert ain skills
may need t o be acquired or hired. For in-
st ance, many farmers have good skills in
product ion management but may need as-
sist ance with the financial and record keep-
ing aspect s of t he farm. Skills assessment
works in concert wit h goal sett ing as farm-
ers develop t he farm organizat ional st ruc-
t ure to hire and train themselves and em-
ployees. The following farm management
t ools can assist farmers in defining and
developing the necessary farm manage-
ment skills.

Relevant Publications

Doing the Ri ght Thing: Decision Making
for Agri cul tural Families
Doye, D. Oklahoma St at e University Ex-
t ension Fact s (WF-213). Cooperat ive Ex-
t ension Service, Division of Agricult ural
Sciences and Nat ural Resources
Farm Management Tools Page 7
Producer Profile
oe Taylor, a farmer
from Hermiston,
Oregon, uses Farm
Works for his 2300-acre
hay and grain farm.
“Farm Works is the best
and most comprehensive
farm management
soft ware that I’ve used,
and I’ve t ried several.
The only t hing I wish is
t hat it allowed a person t o
cust omize report s more
t han it does.”

Farm Works is a fully
integrated farm
management program
most commonly used by
large scale growers.
However, for t he mid t o
small acreage diversified
farm it has many
interest ing feat ures at a
reasonable price.

Business and the Famil y: Al ternati ve
Agri cul tural Enterpri ses, Producti on,
Management, Marketing
Fox, L. K. (1992) (CIS 940). Moscow:
University of Idaho College of Agricul-
t ure, Cooperat ive Ext ension Syst em,
Agricult ural Experiment St at ion

Relevant Websites

“Ag Hel p Wanted: Gui delines for
Managing Agri cul tural Labor”
Present s principles, pract ical exam-
ples, regulatory considerat ions, and ref-

Agri cul tural Personnel Management
Communicat ion is the lifeblood of
personnel management. This websit e
offers samples, official forms, and
gui delines about a variety of document s
t hat may cont ribut e t o effect ive person-
nel management pract ices.

Production Management
& Planning
Product ion planning and record
keeping tools are just as import ant as
t he machinery and t ools farmers select
and use t o physically manage t heir
farms. As part of t he product ion plan,
farmers should consider land, building
and equipment maint enance, mat erials
and supplies, product ion procedures and
st rat egies t o minimize environment al,
legal and safety risk and maximize
profit . Record keeping management per-
t ains to det ailed product ion and sales
informat ion about the farm, such as crop
yields, rainfall and weather condit ions,
and fert ilizer and pest cont rol applica-
t ions.
Regular maint enance of this informa-
t ion can help farmers fine-t une t heir
operat ions to be more efficient and prof-
it able. Effect ive farm management in-
cludes keeping good records on annual
product ion t hat tracks not only yield and
sales but weat her condit ions, soil test s,
fert ilizer and pest control applicat ions.
Many farmers st ill prefer t o maint ain
record-keeping informat ion manually.
However, there are several websit es and
soft ware programs list ed below t hat can
facilit ate t his process.

Relevant Websites

Small Farm Center, UC Davis
Websit e provides a variet y of fact
sheet s on veget able and fruit crop pro-
duct ion

Mi nistry of Agri cul ture, Bri tish Co-
lumbia, Canada /
bus_t ools/excel_pfp.htm
Tot al Crop Plan Worksheet Once
you have developed an ent erprise
budget for each of your commodit ies
you can t hen put this informat ion from
each of the Ent erprise Worksheet s di-
rect ly int o this Total Crop Plan Work-
sheet (up to eight ent erprises). Available
for download in an excel spreadsheet
format .
informat ion_default .asp
Management t ools for product ion.

Budgets & Financial Planning
Financial management of a business
pert ains to the act ual account ing and
financial report ing of expenses and in-
come. Most farms are act ively main-
t aining t his informat ion out of necessit y
for filing income t axes and USDA farm
program qualificat ions.
It is imperat ive t o underst and and
consider all cost s involved in running a
farm business from administrat ion t o
product ion and market ing t o insure t hat
an operat ion is recouping cost and mak-
ing a profit .
Farm Management Tools Page 8

An example might be where a small farmer does not include the repairs or replace-
ment cost of a rotor-t iller in their product pricing st ruct ure. These mist akes can mean
t he difference bet ween real farm profit and loss.
Financial planning includes t he maintenance of income st at ement s, cash flow, break-
even analysis, net worth and ot her financial indicat ors.

Relevant Publications

Understanding budgets and the budgeting process Alternati ve Agri cul tural Enter-
prises: Production, Management, Marketing
(CIS 945). Smathers, R. L., (1992) Moscow: University of Idaho College of Agricul-
t ure, Cooperat ive Ext ension Syst em, Agricult ural Experiment St at ion.

A Pri mer on Costs: Al ternati ve Agri cultural Enterprises, Production, Manage-
ment, Marketing ht tp://
(CIS 949). Guent hner, J. F. and Davis B.B. (1994) Moscow: University of Idaho Col-
lege of Agricult ure, Cooperat ive Ext ension Syst em, Agricult ural Experiment St at ion

Pri cing nontradi tional products and servi ces: Al ternati ve Agri cultural Enterprises,
producti on, management, marketing
(CIS 942). Makus, L. D., Guenthner, J. F., and Folt z, J. C. (1994) Moscow: Univer-
sit y of Idaho College of Agricult ure, Cooperat ive Ext ension Syst em, Agricult ural Ex-
periment St at ion

Achievi ng Success wi th a Business Plan: Instructions and
Workbook to Prepare a Farm Business Pl an
University of Nebraska Cooperat ive Ext ension
(402) 472-1749 2002.htm

Relevant Websites

The Budget Catal og
http://www.agecon.okst at
The Budget Cat alog is an ent erprise budget and budget
soft ware dat abase in the US, searchable by stat e, universit y, farm
size, organic syst ems, crop and livest ock.

(CARE)- Cost And Returns Estimati on Websi te
http://wat erhome.t

Montana State Extension Servi ce
http://www.mont ensionecon/farmmgt /soft ware.html
Downloadable Excel files for financial stat ement and analysis and product ion cost.

Cornell Uni versi ty
Downloadable spreadsheet s for lease analysis, financial st at ement s, cash flow projec-
t ions, and equipment replacement cost analysis.

Page 9 Farm Management Tools
Producer Profile
iane Noel and her
husband Tim St eury
own a 10 acre orchard wit h
2 acres in apples. They
t ook NxLevel’s
Agricult ural
Ent repreneurship course;
“Tilling the Soil of
Opport unit y” in order to
develop a business plan for
t heir new cider business.
By going t hrough a
business planning process
t hey realized t hat the
business and market ing
aspect s would be more
t ime consuming t han t hey
had ant icipated.
“We realized there is a lot
more t o the cider business
t han just growing and
pressing t he apples. As a
result of t he class and
developing a business plan,
we changed our t imeline
and some of our product
mix to more realist ically fit
our goals and t he market
we are going for.”
-Diane Noel

PRIMER (Profi t, Resource, Informa-
tion, Marketing, Enthusi asm Risk)
ext _aec/ext 2000-13.pdf
An online publicat ion on select ing
and evaluat ing new ent erprises for your

Mi nistry of Agri cul ture, Bri tish Co-
lumbia, Canada /
budget s/ m
Ent erprise budget s and planning for
profit : These worksheet s consist of en-
t erprise budget s, cash flow t able and
graph, sensit ivit y analysis t able and
buil dings, machinery, product ion sys-
t em cost s and much more.

Uni versity of Illinois tools/
Downloadable or for purchase ($60)
spreadsheet s for financial analysis, in-
vestment analysis, loan analysis, farm
management and land & yield ut ilit ies.

Oklahoma State Uni versity
http://www.agecon.okst at
Downloadable ent erprise budget s
and financial analysis t ools.

Mani toba Agri cul ture, Food and Ru-
ral Initi ati ves ure/
index.sht ml
Downloadable farm plan and ent er-
prise budget tools in addit ion t o other
planning informat ion.

Online Publications
Using Enterprise Budgets to Make
Decisi ons About Your Farm
2000 PNW 535
Describes how to develop and use an
ent erprise budget , including underst and-
ing cost concept s, adjust ing cost s in
published budget s, doing a break-even
analysis, and making decisions wit h
ent erprise budget s. A sample budget
illust rates the concept s.


Crop Profi tabili ty Analysis, v. 2.0
PNW 001-CS
Price: $25.00
Helps you make long-run cropping
decisions, especially for perennial crops
wit h establishment periods such as or-
chard crops, berries, vineyards and alfalfa
hay. Uses ent erprise budget dat a t o com-
pare the profit ability and net annual cash
flows of pot ent ial crops. Comes wit h a 20
page users guide. alog

Marketing and Sales Planning
Market ing and sales is anot her area
t hat is often secondary t o product ion for
many farmers. While it is import ant t o
grow t he best crop possible, it is equally
import ant to make plans for market ing
t hose crops. An easy rule of t humb when
it comes to developing a market ing and
sales plan is to remember the four “P’s”:
product, price, place and promot ion.
Know your product and cust omers. A
well-developed market ing plan includes a
product and/or service descript ion, a mar-
ket research analysis and a market ing ac-
t ivity out line t hat will assist t he farmer in
defining t he four “P’s” for their market .
To est ablish a t arget ed market plan,
farmers must know who t heir customers
are by ident ifying how, what , when,
where, why, at what price, and what vol-
ume they like to buy, with regard t o par-
t icular produce crops or added-value
product s.
Primary market research through ob-
servat ion and surveys, in addit ion to sec-
ondary market research t hrough docu-
ment ed data sources can assist farmers in
underst anding t he indust ry t hey are mar-
ket ing in and ident ifying t he compet it ion.
The following resources can assist farm-
ers in underst anding and ident ifying mar-
ket s and developing a market ing plan.
Farm Management Tools Page 10
Other Useful Government

Census of Agriculture

National Agricultural Statistics

Natural Resources Conservation
Service (NRCS)

Farm Service Agency, USDA

Economical Research Service,

Federal Register- Publication of
government regulations.http://

Small Business Administration-
Free information and publications
for businesses

Producer Profile
Relevant Publications

Marketi ng Your Produce Di rectl y to
Consumers: Alternati ve Agri cul tural
Enterprises Producti on, Management,
Marketi ng
(EXT 741). Parker-Clark, V. J. (1992)
Moscow: University of Idaho College of
Agricult ure, Cooperat ive Ext ension Syst em

Identi fying Domesti c Markets-Indi rect
Marketi ng of Produce Alternati ve Agri -
cul tural Enterprises producti on, man-
agement, marketi ng
(CIS 981) Guent hner, J. F. (1993) Mos-
cow: Universit y of Idaho College of Agri-
cult ure, Cooperat ive Ext ension Syst em,
Agricult ural Experiment St at ion


Market Farm Forms: Spreadsheet tem-
pl ates for pl anning and organizing infor-
mati on on di versi fied market farms
Rosenzweig, M.A., wit h B. Kaye-Blake.
3377 Early Times Lane, Auburn CA
95603-7900 (916) 885-9201.
This is an inexpensive program at
$45.00 developed by a small acreage Cali-
fornia farmer, Marcie Rosenzweig. There
is a manual for t he program. This program
is easy t o use and provides Excel work-
sheet s that can be used in writt en form or
on the comput er t o manage finances and
daily field records for crops only- no live-
st ock.
Farmers fill in informat ion t hat will help
t hem calculat e plant ing needs, budget s, and
soil amendment s. The program does not
generat e financial report s. However, it is
especially useful for farmers doing Com-
munity Support ed Agricult ure (CSA) to
assess product ion cost s, pricing and quant i-
t ies necessary for plant ing and serving
The program does not have general
ledger/check writ ing, or payroll capabili-
t ies. This is a program geared to small-
diversified farms with a special sect ion on
planning and pricing CSA shares.

Relevant Websites

Cornell Uni versi ty m
Cornell program on agricult ural and
small business management . s/
agfoodcommunit y/afs_t emp2.cfm?
t opicID=103
A great variet y of market ing resources
is available.

Marketeer s/
Market eer -soft ware helps producers
and ot her agricult ure professionals analyze
and implement crop market ing plans.

Marketi ng Plan Outli ne
OR Small Business Development Cent er
Market m
An out line for a market ing plan. Asks a
series of quest ions t o address 19 aspect s of
t he plan.

PNW Small Farm Websites

Oregon State Uni versi ty Small Farms
http://smallfarms.oregonst at

Washington State Small Farm Program

Uni versity of Idaho Small Farms ag/

Rural Roots

Washington State Dept. of Agriculture,
Small Farms and Di rect Marketing ing/SmallFarm/
default .htm
Farm Management Tools Page 11
Many small fa rme rs li ke Dia ne G reen of Green tree Natura ls in
Sandpoi nt, Idaho still pre fer to manuall y ma intain detaile d fa rm
records an d f inances because it is easie r and doesn ’t requi re the
time in vestment to lear n a par ticula r soft ware p rog ram.
However, D iane plans t o inco rpo rate a fi nancial so ftware
management p rog ram int o the far m business when she has the
time to learn the pr ogra m.

A pro gram such as Marke t Far m For ms might be ap prop riate
for D iane to help he r manage her g row ing CS A ma rket.
Producer Profile Producer Profile
any small farmers
like Diane Green of
Greentree Nat urals in
Sandpoint , Idaho st ill prefer
to manually maint ain
det ailed farm records and
finances because it is easier
and doesn’t require the t ime
invest ment to learn a
part icular soft ware
However, Diane plans to
incorporat e a financial
soft ware management
program int o t he farm
business when she has the
t ime t o learn the program.

A program such as Market
Farm Forms might be
appropriat e for Diane to
help her manage her
growing CSA market .
Diane Green & Thom Sadoski
of Greentree Naturals

Contact I nformation

















Full Circle Farm,
3377 Early Times Lane
Auburn, CA 95603

Market Farm For ms
Excel, Lotus & Quatt ro Pro.
Mac and PC versions available

Description: Worksheet s format that calculate: CSA
planting needs f or season, CSA share amounts and prices
based on harvest, seed and start needs f or season, and soil
amendments needs. Other worksheets include: task
schedule, budget , crop succession t imeline, and invoices.
This program is a Calif ornia based on row crop veget able
and some f ruit production.

$45 X X X
Fearless Foods, LLC
P. O. Box 2058
Healdsburg, CA
www.f earlessf

CSA Easy
FileMaker Pro. And PC and Mac compatible

Description: Program includes worksheets f or plan basket
planner, delivery schedule, and t emplat es f or newsletter,
mailing labels, cust omer correspondence. Program can
import logos to customize documents. CSA Planting
program underdevelopment to track and calculate CSA
planting needs and prices. Program customization services
are available

1099 X X X X
Diamond Software
1000 S. Caraway Rd.
Suit e 211
Jonesboro, AR 72401

Farmer’s Bookkeeper
Access 95/98NT
PC compatible only
Description: Bookkeeping program can maint ain, several
diff erent farming ent ities records, cost sharing bet ween
entities. General ledger is linked to f ield records and/ or cat tle
records so t hat expenses can be post ed aut omatically.
Program customizing services are available

$800 X X X X X X
Center For Rural
Af fairs
PO Box 406
Walthill, NE 68067

IFARM (Integrated Farm and Resource Mgmt .) Manual

Description: Manual workbook includes financial rat io
worksheet, marketing planner f or livest ock & crops and loan
repayment planner. This manual is focused on resource
assessment, personal and environmental.

$50 X X X X
Ag Business Services
808 Laf ayet te St.,
Denver, CO 80218
(800) 692-0649

ABS Financial Statement
ABS Cash Flow, ABS Loan Analysis
and ABS Enter prise Analysis
Excel 97 PC and Mac
Description: Program includes full f inancial statement and
ratio worksheets. Analysis f or 40 drops and 12 livestock
enterprises and calculates cost of production for individual
fields. Program cust omizing services are available.

$150 X X X
Prof it able Farming
102 Paint ed Fall Way,
Cary NC 27513-3526
CropPlan 2000
Description: Web based worksheets that are crop specif ic
to: corn, soybean, cott on, rice and peanuts. New crops are
being added: sorghum, sunf lowers, wheat, barley oats and
Table 3. Farm Management Tools at a Glance

Contact Infromation

















Int uit Inc.
2632 Marine Way,
Mountain View, CA
Telephone: (650)

www.Intuit. com
Quicken Deluxe
PC and Mac programs
Description: Basic account ing program that can be used t o
as a Crop Enterprise Budget ing program with the use of
classes and subclasses. Quicken’s general ledger/check
book has the added advantage of being able t o download
bank statements and do online bill pay for expenses. Quicken
Home business has payroll and invoicing.
$60 X X X
5150 N. Sixth #125
Fresno, CA 93710
The Farmers Office 2000
Web Access
Wiindows 95/98

Description: Fully int egrat ed accounting program with f ield
notes. Program can allocate General and administrat ive
overhead cost t o crop costing cent ers. The emphasis of
program is in t he payroll abilit y to calculat e wages based on
piece rat e f or tree, row and vine production. A larger version
of this accounting program of fers greater flexibility wit h payroll
calculations based primarily on California’s high labor crop
product ion.

1495 x X X X X X X X
CTN Data Service,
PO Box 250
Hamilton, IN 46742-

Farm Works
Farm Trac
Farm Fund
Farm St ock

Web Access / Windows 95
Description: Fully int egrat ed accounting, mapping and
record keeping program. Farm Trac is t he record keeping
module t hat has map drawing and GPS capabilit ies. Farm
Funds is t he account ing module that int egrates with Farm
Trac and Farm Stock, which is t he livestock module.

Int uit Inc.
2632 Marine Way,
Mountain View, CA
Telephone: (650)
www.Intuit. com

Description: QuickBooks off ers farms a f ull business package
that includes tracking inventory, sales orders, and accounts
receivable and payable, in addition to online services for
invoicing and accepting credit cards. QuickBooks also has built
in business planning and forecasting t ools based on your
f inances. QuickBooks does not track production records.
$299 X X X X X
Cent er for Financial
Mgmt .
University of
1994 Buf ord Ave,
St. Paul, MN 55108
(800) 234-1111
ftware/ FINPACK/

Web Access
Financial Planning & analysis tool-not a record keeping
program. Evaluates financial situations and explores
alt ernat ive scenarios. Support ed by Cooperative Extension
Service in 40 st ates.
$395 X

Column Key (specific column information)

Small Farm Specific: Programs written specifically f or small f arm management
Livestock: Programs that provide livest ock record keeping syst em to t rack livestock herds
Financial Statements: Programs that produce reports f or all or some of the following: balance sheet, cash f low or income statement, Break-even
analysis, owner equit y, and f inancial ratio analysis
Accounts r eceivable: Programs t hat track accounts receivable as part of t he accounting package
Checkbook General Ledger : Programs t hat manage checkbook register and budget categories f or general ledger accounting
Inventor ies: Programs t hat track invent ories
Machinery costs: Programs that help farm managers figure machinery cost as part of the production cost
Payroll : Programs t hat help f arm managers figure payroll and manage employee inf ormation
Fiel d records: Programs that help farmers manage specif ic field application and harvest inf ormat ion such as, pest control and f ertilizer, water,
seed, yields, and weather related inf ormation.

The farm management t ools provided in this docu-
ment are a sample of what is available for farmers.
The list of t ools cont inues t o grow and is constant ly
changing. Comput ers can serve as a valuable resource
in allowing farmers to discover more tools and ways
t o effect ively and efficient ly manage their farm busi-
Even wit hout a specific farm management soft ware
program, a comput er with internet access can provide
access to downloadable tools via websit es that can be
used t o develop whole business plans, resource assess-
ment s, ent erprise budget s, financial st at ement , and
market plans.

Northwest Direct Project
Northwest Direct : Improving Market s for Small Farms
is a collaborat ive effort t o underst and, evaluat e and im-
prove direct market ing opport unit ies for small farms. Land
grant universit ies, government agencies, non-profit s, and
farmers across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho are work-
ing together to build food and farming syst ems t hat im-
prove the social and economic health of farmers, consum-
ers and communit ies.

The Northwest Direct project was funded by the USDA
Init iat ive for Fut ure Agricult ural and Farming Syst ems.
The project is focused on research and educat ion to help
underst and, evaluate and improve direct market ing sys-
t ems of farms in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Page 14 Farm Management Tools

Washington State University

Marcy Ostrom
Director, Small Farms Program
Dave Holland
Extension Economist
Richard Carkner
Extension Economist
Vance Corum
Direct Marketing Coordinator

Washington State Department
of Agriculture

Leslie Zenz
Small Farm/Direct Marketing
Bruce Dunlop
Regulatory Barriers Research

University of Idaho

John Foltz
Agriculture Economics
Cinda Williams
Sust. Ag. Coordinator, PSES

Rural Roots

Colette DePhelps
Executive Director
John Potter
Program Assistant

Oregon State University

Larry Lev
Extension Economist
Garry Stephenson
Small Farms Program
Linda Brewer
Faculty Research Assistant

Other Cooperators

Idaho State Dept. of Agriculture
Oregon Dept. of Agri culture
Oregon Farmers’ Market Assoc.
WA Farmers’ Market Assoc.
State Advisory Committees
Partners in Northwest Direct
Washington State Extension, Washington State Depar tment of Agricultur e, Oregon State University
Ex tension and Univer sity of Idaho Extension programs and policies ar e consistent with feder al and state laws and regulations on
nondiscrimination regar ding race, sex , r eligion, age, color , cr eed, national or ethnic origin, disability; and status as a veteran.