Other Aids to the Process

Education

The producer needs to know what they are doing or raising goats will be a painful lesson in the pocketbook. You will need to have an eye for detail, be able to follow set procedures, and understand the risks involved. Use the best information available and include all decision makers in the business planning process. Talk to local growers and extension personnel. Other sources of information are books/periodicals on meat goat production and industry, commodity organizations, and meat goat websites such as Langston University. The National Ag Risk Education Library provides risk management education on a variety of topics including goats. Focus on financial management as much as production performance. Realize that alternatives that appear profitable for one producer may not work for another. Everyone's experience levels, managerial abilities, and willingness to assume risk is different. Do your homework!

Financial records

Records are the foundation for accurate budgets, financial statements, and tax reports. While tax reporting is the primary motivation for record keeping for many producers, research has shown positive returns to investments in record keeping and analysis in support of farm and ranch decisions. The sample budget previously discussed may be tailored to fit an individual producer's operation, but its reliability as a planning tool is only as good as the quality of the data.

Since budgets should be based on the best information possible, the producer's own records are a good place to start. A variety of tools are available to assist producers in keeping financial records. The record-keeping system that a farm manager should use depends on the cost - time, effort, and cash - in obtaining a system, maintaining it, and the value of the output as a decision tool. Farm record systems vary in the amount of information collected, the method of entering data, and the structure of final reports. Goat producers should choose the method appropriate to the size and complexity of their operation.

Computerized record-keeping systems are affordable and especially useful for manipulating data for different types of reports. Although a computerized system may not reduce the amount of time spent keeping records, computerized records make financial summaries simple, more efficient and effective for management needs. For instance, an annual or monthly cash flow statement based on actual income and expenses can be generated in a matter of seconds. Income and expenses can be sorted by enterprise so that farm managers know where "profit centers" are on the farm. Whole farm or enterprise budgets can be prepared and compared to actual transactions so that financial progress can be monitored at regular intervals. Graphs prepared with a few keystrokes can show where cash is coming from and where it is going and are invaluable in getting a quick feel for the farm's financial situation.

A number of user-friendly commercial software products are now available that can be adapted for farm use. One such software program that is appropriate for farms and ranches requiring only cash records is Quicken® . Quicken® is user-friendly, widely available, and inexpensive. More information on using Quicken® for farm financial record keeping is available from the OSU Department of Agricultural Economics at http://www.agecon.okstate.edu/quicken/. Producers who need a payroll system plus the ability to invoice and maintain accounts payable and receivable may want to use QuickBooks® , which is a small business double-entry accounting system, or a comparable package. Cash flow features and investment tracking are lacking in QuickBooks®.

Hand record books are available through the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and from many lenders. The OSU Agricultural Economics website offers a book from which individual pages are available to be printed as needed: http://www.agecon.okstate.edu/farmbook/.

Oklahoma farmers and ranchers can call on the Intensive Financial and Management Planning Support (IFMAPS) program to receive free, confidential assistance in farm business planning, including analyzing the potential for a new farm business. Trained financial specialists work with families one-on-one to develop financial statements and evaluate alternative plans. The plans typically include budgets for the farm enterprise(s), a cash flow plan, income statement, balance sheet, debt worksheet, and financial measures. Contact your local agricultural Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Educator or call the IFMAPS Center at 1-800-522-3755.

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