Financial Records (BF 104)
Setting up Systems to Track Your Profitability
What do you need to do to prepare for operating your business with sound financial information? Every business creates a great number of records in a variety of media. This course will concentrate on financial record keeping systems. Records can help determine the absolute and relative profitability of the farm business by identifying the strengths and weakness of the business. Only with these records can you see strong points to capitalize on and weak points requiring corrective action, taking decisive action to ensure the long-term success of your farm.
New farmers with 1-5 years of experience who are seeking to set up or improve their financial record keeping systems and learn to read their farm’s fiscal health through financial statements.
“Most valuable for me was learning about the various methods of measuring/tracking farm financials and understanding how each contributes to a better analysis of farm viability and better diagnosis of threats to long term profitability.” -Sarah L, Mt. Horeb, WI
After completion of this course you will:
- Appreciate why keeping farm financial records is essential.
- Be familiar with how a financial record keeping system is organized and why it is beneficial for farmers.
- Be able to set up a simple spread sheet (MS Excel) and software program (QuickBooks Pro) to start financial data collection.
- Learn to calculate simple business ratios to assist in management decisions.
- Discover requirements used by lending institutions to make loan determinations.
The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in MOODLE, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from outside presenters, ask questions, and collaborate with other participants and the instructor to address your farm issues in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.
You will also have access to one-on-one time with the instructors to help you with the logistics of setting up your record-keeping system.
Qualifying for Loans
If you are considering applying for a low-interest beginning farmer loan though the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), completing this course may help you qualify, if you meet other eligibility requirements. For farmers in NY who have already applied for an FSA loan and been told they need borrower training credit, all of our courses are pre-approved to provide you with this credit, if you complete all course requirements. For more information, visit the FSA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Loans website.
The course is taught by Bonnie Collins, accountant and Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator in Oneida County, NY, and Stephen Hadcock, Capital Area Agricultural and Horticultural Program, NY.
Monday Jan 13 – Feb 17, 2014. Webinars will be from 7-8:30pm Eastern time each Monday night and will be recorded for later viewing.
- Week 1: Introduction and Course Objectives
Topics covered and Webinar: This is a chance for those in the class to get to know each other and get some tips on using the course content software, Moodle (our online “campus”). This week you will determine what financial records are essential to the management of your farm. You will also be asked to identify and record at least six smart goals that you would use to improve your farm your farm financial record keeping system.
- Week 2: Bookkeeping & Accounting Basics
Topics covered & Webinar: You will examine key financial record keeping terms, you will learn to follow data through a record keeping system to generate useful financial information. You will review the many forms of business structures available to you and how they relate to business liabilities and taxes.
- Week 3: Tools and Templates
Topics covered & Webinar: You will have the opportunity to explore basic record keeping systems, by discovering how businesses operate and how financial transactions are entered into a record keeping system. You will be presented with a host of different record keeping system formats.
- Week 4: Demonstration of QuickBooks Pro
Topics covered & Webinar: Demonstration of QuickBooks Pro, using a mini case study. You will learn the transactions of a business, and the structure of useful reports, such as the Balance Sheet, The Income Statement and a Statement of Cash Flow.
- Week 5: Analyzing the Financial Statements
Topics covered & Webinar: You will examine what the financial statements are revealing about our farm case study and what we can do to improve its profitability. For example, is the farm generating enough income to support the family? Can the farm afford to take on additional debt?
- Week 6: Where Do We Go From Here?
Topics Covered & Webinar: Week six is the last week of the course and we will help you decide what record keeping system options is best for you, complete a survey, share additional resources, and have a final Q&A.
Cost and Registration
Fee for this course is $200. To register, visit our Course Registration page and follow the instructions there.