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Cash Flow Budgeting -- A Valuable Farm Financial Management Practice

John Hanchar, Farm Business Management
Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops

Last Modified: July 5, 2013

Introduction
Less favorable input, output price relationships, for example, rising feed prices relative to prices received for milk, livestock and other livestock products, will likely challenge farm business owners' abilities to achieve financial objectives over the next several months. Knowing where the business might be financially given less favorable conditions is a valuable first step in meeting the challenge. Budgets estimate future financial condition or performance.

"Farmers who use written calculations or a computer spreadsheet to make a cash flow budget had a much greater ROA (rate of return on assets with appreciation [a profit measure]) than those who did not use these techniques. ... This provides evidence that there are positive returns to detailed financial analyses." (Gloy, Brent A., Eddy L. LaDue, and Kevin Youngblood. 2002. Financial Management Practices of New York Dairy Farms.)

Budgets
For farm business owners, most budgeting work focuses on estimating expected effects on profit, and on projecting the business' ability to meet cash obligations in a timely manner.

Key characteristics of budgets when facing unfavorable input, output price relationships include the following.

  • Budgeting helps you see what a future period's financial performance will look like for planning purposes. A budget allows one to project cash flow shortages, plan borrowings, and determine the ability to repay borrowings.
  • Budgeting provides the manager with a tool for assessing how well the business is meeting projections, and to identify and correct potential problems.
  • Budgets help the farm business owner communicate to others where the business is headed financially.

Examples of budgets include: partial, enterprise, and whole farm budgets for projecting expected effects on profitability and for projecting expected effects on the business' ability to meet cash obligations; and capital budgets associated with investment analysis. Income statements or cash flow statements that report a past period's performance, for example, an income statement for the 2011 calendar year, are not examples of budgets. They report actual past performance, and do not project or estimate future financial performance.

Whole Farm Budgets
A whole farm budget examining profitability summarizes expected income, expenses, and profit. A cash flow budget for projecting the business' ability to meet cash obligations is a summary of the expected cash inflows (cash farm receipts, money borrowed, capital sales, non farm income) and outflows (cash farm expenses, principal payments, capital purchases, withdrawals for family living and other personal withdrawals).

Characteristics include the following.

  • Whole farm budgets consider all items including those that are not expected to change from the current, base period to the future period. For example, a cash flow budget projects what the cash flow statement will look like in a future period and reports total values for all inflow and outflow items.
  • The most useful, valid projections are obtained when proper procedures are used. LaDue, Schuelke and Mensah-Dartey offer some basic rules to follow to insure useful projections (LaDue, Eddy L., Jacob Schuelke and Virgil Mensah-Dartey. 2000. CASHPRO: A Computer Spreadsheet for Projecting Annual Cash Flows and Pro Forma Income Statements.)

1. Project cash flows from accrual (or accrual adjusted) receipt and expense values.
2. Exclude unusual occurrences from the base year data used for projections.
3. Use causal logic in estimating each receipt and expense item.
4. Be sure to adjust for inflation.
5. Livestock farms that grow forages or concentrates should carefully assess their forage and, or concentrate balance whenever significant changes are expected in the size or composition of the animal herd or cropping program.

  • Conducting sensitivity analysis and seeking critical review of the projections enhance the usefulness and validity of projections.

The CASHPRO electronic spreadsheet with instructions is available at http://agfinancedyson.cornell.edu/tools.html. Monthly, whole farm, cash flow budgeting is also an option. Again, see http://agfinancedyson.cornell.edu/tools.html for a monthly cash flow budgeting tool.



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Upcoming Events

Twilight Pasture Walk - Sweet Grass Meats Farm

September 10, 2014
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Naples, NY

Join us at Sweet Grass Meats for a tour of their beef and sheep grazing operation and to learn more about how they market grass-fed lamb, beef and pastured pork through an on-farm store and regional buyers club. Network with other graziers, and join in the discussions on multi-species grass-fed production.  
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Calf & Heifer Congress 2014 - "Birth to Breeding"

December 10 - December 11, 2014

Henrietta, NY

The Calf & Heifer Congress 2014 - "Birth to Breeding" is the fourth in a series of dairy replacement conferences presented by Cornell University Extension and the Cornell PRO-DAIRY Program. 
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Announcements

Dr. Jerry Bertoldo Receives Achievement Award from NACAA

The National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) recently recognized Dr. Jerry Bertoldo with their Achievement Award. The Achievement Award is presented to those agricultural agents that have been working in their field for less than 10 years but in that short time have made significant contributions to their profession. Fitting for a history buff like Jerry, the award was presented in the ballroom of the historic Old Battle House Hotel during the NACAA Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference on July 21 in Mobile, Alabama.

Dr. Bertoldo, DVM, has taken the lead with dairy discussion groups, Hispanic dairy worker training and group feeding and housing of dairy calves technology since joining Cornell Cooperative Extension as a Dairy Specialist on the North West New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crop Team in 2004.

Jerry crafted the concept and secured funding to establish a dairy training program for Spanish speaking workers that documents and translates standard operating procedures and provides on-farm training to workers on large dairies across a 10-county region. Dr. Bertoldo serves on the instructional staff for the Wyoming County Dairy Institute helping to develop course outlines and providing both lecture and hands on training through eleven different workforce development modules for the dairy industry workers.

Calf rearing performance had stagnated on northeast dairies. In recent years, Dr. Bertoldo worked with leaders from across the world to bring group housing with free choice feeding technology, being employed in Europe, to New York dairies. He organized workshops, demonstrations, symposiums and tours leading to widespread adoption which yielded more robust growth and reduced the labor once required to care for calves. Most recently he has assumed leadership for the statewide Dairy Calf Congress, held annually to share advancements in calf raising technology.

Dr. Bertoldo's leadership has established discussion groups for young dairy managers and calf managers in Western New York. These discussion groups provide a forum for dairy farm owners and managers to share information, discover new ideas and reinforce tried and true management practices. The groups have visited one another's farms and taken tours to other areas to expand their knowledge base.

Jerry Bertoldo exhibits the enthusiasm, ingenuity and tenacity required of an effective extension educator. His easy going manner and broad knowledge of dairy science make him a sought after resource by the local farm community. He is a team worker and leader as demonstrated when he mentors new staff, who join the team here in Northwest New York and his officer roles with NYSACAA.

The members of the NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops congratulate Jerry on receiving the NACAA Achievement Award. We are proud to be part of a team of extension leaders like Jerry. 


2014 Cornell Field Crop Guidelines Available

The 2014 edition of the Cornell Integrated Field Crop Management Guidelines is available. The Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management provides up-to-date field crop production and pest management information for New York State. It has been designed as a practical guide for field crop producers, crop consultants, pesticide dealers, and others who advise field crop producers. Crops included in this Guide include field corn, forages, small grains, and soybeans. The cost of this guide is $25 plus shipping. You can order this publication, or other Cornell Guidelines, through Cornell Copperative Extension offices or from the Cornell Store at Cornell University at 800-624-4080.

Social Media, New Tools for Extension

Rapid communication is critical to the success of the agricultural industry. Many farmers use phone, email, and traditional websites every day. However social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Maps, and blogs are just beginning to be used to share timely information in order broaden the reach of Extension. The NWNY Team is active on a number of these sites. We are on Facebook and new content is posted every week keeping farmers, industry, and the general public informed of current conditions in the field, national issues that impact western New York farms, and informational resources. Google Maps is currently being used to communicate the progress of 15 on-farm research locations in western New York through weekly photo and video uploads. Google Maps also has large potential as an Extension tool, including helping farmers to network in the region in the emerging malting barley industry, precision agriculture adaption, and local hay marketing. The team is also exploring the use of YouTube and Twitter to better serve the region in addition to updating the team's webpage and blogging.

Google Map for the Winter Small Grain Nitrogen Rate Trial: Map

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