Friday, July 8, 2022

Tool for crunching the numbers

Most dairy farmers would rather be out working on the farm than inside doing the books but that attitude is changing as they realise managing their farm financials is not the arduous task it once was. Dairy farmers now make up half of all new sales of Cashmanager RURAL ONLINE, a farm accounting software programme. Managing director Brian Eccles, managing director of CRS Software which produces the programme, describes it as a companion to the whole dairy production focus which brings everything together. “When you say ‘I’m a dairy farmer’ a whole lot of things change,” he said. “There’s a dashboard on the front screen that for a dairy farmer looks totally different than for other types of farming. The way dairy farmers do their budgets is quite different, reports are different, and so these have all been designed especially for them.” It can easily handle the hard work of completing a revised budget every month. Chartered Accountant Lawrence Field, director of RURAL CA Farm Accountants said dairy farmers need to put a budget in place and be able to update it easily.

“They may need to be able to compare how they have actually done compared with what was proposed and be able to explain any differences,” he said. “Another thing dairy farmers need to be able to do is report the key quantities of, for example, milksolids (MS) production and to a lesser extent what their stock numbers are doing.”

He might send three or four key Cashmanager reports to clients and to their banker so all are up to date with where that business is at. As more and more clients want to look forward in their business, he likes to have a budget in place for them to plan their tax accurately.

Field particularly appreciates the fact the programme is online.

“Even if a farmer is doing their own data entry, coding and GST and we’re not involved with that, it’s easy for us to jump in and see how they are doing and then use that information to do their tax planning and comment on how they are going,” he said.

“We can also run our eye over what they have done and if we pick up anything that is not right we can change it straight away.”

Sally and Willy Bosch are 50:50 sharemilkers at Martinborough in the Wairarapa who use the programme to look forward and make sound financial decisions. They milk 310 cows on 91ha and were winners of last year’s regional Sharemilker of the Year Award for the Wairarapa/Hawke’s Bay region (Dairy Exporter, April 2012, page 15).

“I find it really easy to use,” Sally said. “The budgeting side pretty much sold it to us. I use the wage book, budgeting and the new livestock reconciliation they have just introduced which I love. I struggled with the last stock rec because it was a full year piece but now it’s individual months and you can budget for the livestock which you couldn’t do before.”

From the start of the season they do their budgets for six to eight months out.

“We can look at everything and see where we are now, and look ahead and see how we will be financially going into next season. At this stage we are budgeting on milk production of 120,000kg MS.

CRS Software has a strong relationship as sponsors of the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) with many women using the program. The company has also been involved in presenting at DWN Dairy Days on dairy farm finances. Chair Michelle Wilson and her husband Peter, who milk 620 cows on their 220ha farm at Tuatapere in Southland, have used Cashmanager for eight years.

“Budgeting is a really important feature for planning,” she said. “Years ago you could go to the bank and get your accountant to do your cashflow for you and do your budgeting. But now you need to know where you’re heading and be prepared for the peaks and the troughs with taxes and GST.”

Sally and Willy Bosch – sold on budgets.

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