So where have the first three months of the year gone…. budgets, taxes, planning!

2017 has many elements that each year brings…. budgets, taxes, and planning. The difference is that budgets are tighter and therefore planning for farm needs versus wants gets a little tougher.
Each penny that gets spent in 2017 will come with a bit of double checking that it really needs to get spent. There really won’t be too many quick purchases, but a lot of shopping around to find out where the best prices are.

Take for example, seed. Seed is not all the same. BUT there is seed that is sold by different companies that has the same genetic technology, growing length, environmental tolerances, preferential growing conditions, and yield… virtually the same. The difference is a name and a price. No, the big companies aren’t always more expensive. Sometimes it is smaller companies, the ones where service is more than responsive and are willing and able to assist and support that costs more. Why? Well, perhaps simply because they are smaller. They don’t move the same quantity of product, but provide exceptional service and product. So you may ask what does the cheaper seed come with. Well, it comes with a fabulous product, a sales person that answers your questions and investigates concerns and checks in to make sure all is well. The seed has the same genetic components, but a local company sells the product for a larger company versus the company itself. Different business size and structure, same product, both with quality service! Ultimately, it means knowing what you can afford, what kind of potential profit can be made and taking emotion out of a business decision- which is not always easy!

Decisions also are a matter of timing. Being that we have been actively farming for 18 years, we know what parts and maintenance supplies for machinery we are going to need. We also know about how much fuel and propane we will use. So, we keep a very close eye on sales, specials and the price of fuels. Who doesn’t like a good deal and this year a good deal can mean 10’s of thousands of dollars. The important part of getting a good deal is that you have the capacity to take ownership of the purchases when needed. If you only have storage for 500 gallons of fuel and you bought 10,000, you either 1) need to be able to take fuel in increments or 2) find somewhere/someone that can store it or 3) set up fuel tanks to accommodate. A person has to decide whether a good deal is a good deal and if they are truly capable of handling the product. Sometimes when budgets are tight and deals are right, investment in infrastructure is the right way to go.By this I mean instead of paying someone else to store, dry, or deliver for you, purchasing bins, a dryer, fuels tanks, and/ or a semi and trailer may be the best return on your dollar. Forgive the saying but it all comes down to “crunching numbers”.

So, when I say we have been busy this winter, we really have. Yes, we have been repairing and prepping machinery for planting season and hauling crop to point of sale, but we have also been doing a lot of “number crunching” and looking for best use of our dollar on and off the farm. For you see, the farm generates income to invest back into the farm, but also to support our family and community. Decisions have to be made as to where to spend money to meet our needs and wants, as well as, contribute to our community. Decisions and discussions which are never easy, but necessary.

So as I venture into the second quarter of 2017, I can tell you that things look solid for us. Tough decisions have been made. A greater understanding has been reached and the farm planting season will be taking off soon!

2017 may just be the best year yet!  I can’t wait to share more as we get the tractors out in the field, the bottle calves into the barn and 4H projects underway!

2017- lots to come and to be seen!