New 2005 Enterprise Budgets for Wheat and Grass Hay

Whether it’s done in an Excel spreadsheet or simply mulled over in one’s mind, “budgeting”, or estimating profitability of an enterprise, is an important process. Budgeting is often described as “penciling it out” before committing resources to a plan. Ohio State University Extension has had a long history of providing “Enterprise Budgets” that can be used as a starting point for producers in their budgeting process.

Newly updated Enterprise Budgets for 2005 have been completed and posted to the Farm Management Website of the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics at

Updated Enterprise Budgets have been published for the following field crops: Conservation Tillage Wheat – with and without Straw Harvested, Conservation Tillage Wheat with Straw Harvested and No-till Double Crop Soybeans.

Budgets updated earlier in 2005 include: Conservation Tillage Corn, No-Till Corn, Roundup Ready Conservation Tillage Soybeans, Roundup Ready No-Till Soybeans, Non-GMO Conservation Tillage Soybeans, and Non-GMO No-Till Soybeans. With the increased importance of new pest threats to soybeans we have included special budgets for soybeans with Asian Soybean Rust and/or Soybean Aphid pressure. These budgets include Roundup Ready No-Till Soybeans with Asian Soybean Rust Pressure, Roundup Ready No-Till Soybeans with Soybean Aphid Pressure, and Roundup Ready No-Till Soybeans with Asian Soybean Rust and Soybean Aphid Pressure. To access these budgets online, see the following website:

42nd Annual Schools for Tax Practitioners Announced

Tax practitioners will have an opportunity to attend one of eight two-day workshops offered in November and December according to Dr. Warren Lee, Director, Ohio Income Tax Schools, The Ohio State University. The Ohio Income Tax Schools program has been accepted for continuing education credits by the Accountancy Board of Ohio, IRS Director of Practice, Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards for Continuing Education. These schools include one hour of ethics CE credit for accountants and enrolled agents, and one hour of “professionalism” credit for Ohio attorneys.

These workshops are intended for persons with income tax experience who prepare and file tax returns for individuals, small businesses and farmers. Instruction will focus on changes and problem areas related to preparation of federal and state returns. Participants will receive copies of the 2005 National Income Tax Workbook (including a searchable CD containing the 2003 -2005 Workbooks) and the RIA Federal Tax Handbook. Highly qualified instructors will explain and interpret tax regulations and recent changes in tax law. A new feature of this year’s schools will be a presentation by the Taxpayer Advocate.

The workshop locations and dates for 2005 are as follows: Ashland, November 15-16; Fremont, November 17-18; Columbus, November 21-22; Zanesville, November 29-30; Lima, December 1-2; Dayton, December 6-7; Chillicothe, December 8-9; Kent, December 12-13.

Workshop information, a downloadable registration form as well as on-line registration are available at the following website: Information about a one-day Agricultural Issues teleconference to be held at several locations around Ohio on December 16 can also be found at this same website. For information, contact Warren Lee (614-292-6308 or

The tax schools are sponsored by Ohio State University Extension in cooperation with the Internal Revenue Service, the Ohio Department of Taxation and the Land Grant University Tax Education Foundation.

Employee Management for Production Agriculture Conference

This conference is designed to help agricultural managers as they deal with the challenges of managing human resources. The speakers, sessions, and curriculum have been designed with agriculture managers in mind. Do not miss this opportunity to learn how to better manage your business’ most important resource—its people. The dates are December 8-9, 2005 in Kansas City. The host hotel is the Hyatt Downtown.

This conference is perhaps the leading agricultural labor management event in the country. Past conferences have drawn large audiences from throughout the United States. The audience has included owners, managers, and employees from every type of agricultural business, large and small. Pre-registration is $150 per person; register toll-free at (800) 456-7675. Full details are available at:

Ohio Ag Manager Newsletter Readership Survey Summary-October 2005

Using Zoomerang, a readership survey was launched via direct e-mail to 279 subscribers. 112 completed the survey for a 40% response rate. Also, agricultural Extension educators, who otherwise were not subscribers, were asked to complete the survey.

84% of the subscribers scan and read full articles, 11% read full articles. 62% indicated that the newsletter was important to very important to their business or job. 94% said that the letter should be published monthly, 95% indicated that the articles were well balanced between technical and practical, and 92% thought the length of the letter was about right. The majority of readers like to read articles concerning new technology, educational activities, tax management and especially highly rated were about improved management and financial articles. Other articles listed were labor management, business management and rental rates.

The respondent breakdown was: 38% educators, 25% farmers, 14% other, 10% agri-business supplier, 6% consultant, 4% lender, 2% tax preparer, and 1% landlord. For the open-ended question “Because of the information provided in this newsletter, I…,” 64 different ideas were listed. Examples include: better prepared to respond to clients needs, develop more practical policy options, more aware of farm management issues, stay apprised of changes in agriculture, am a better farmer, explored other ag opportunities, producing a higher quality local newsletter, and kept current on changing technology. The question as to whether farm businesses or clientele saved money or increased profit, 52% said it was not applicable, however 38% answered yes. For twenty of the subscribers answering yes, a total of $250,000 was saved for an average of $12,000 for each person responding with savings or profit.

Other benefits rating highly include 83% making informed decisions, 31% cost cutting and saved time, 26% improved marketing and improved employee management skills, 24% saved tax dollars and others added value to newsletters and teaching materials, provided well thought out answers, and put a dollar figure on additional fuel charges for custom work. 29% forwarded the newsletter to others, 24 via e-mail to 1767 others or an average of nearly 74 others. Also, 8 send paper copies by mail to 1585 others for a 198 average.

For the farmer subscribers, 46 crop producers reported 21,264 acres of corn, 23,055 acres of soybeans, 2790 acres wheat, over 2200 acres of alfalfa and other forages and pastures, 146 acres of fruit and vegetable crops, and 320 acres from the green industry. The average size of the crop farms reporting was 1085 acres. 25 livestock producers reported the following numbers by head: 793 beef, 275 sheep, 5858 swine, 6 horses, 444 dairy cows, 250 custom heifers, 160 poultry, 300 rabbits and 100 meat goats. Annual gross income from the farmer subscribers were 14% less than $10,000, 25% $10-50,000, 16% $50-100,000, 25% $100-250,000, 9% $250-500,000 and 12% greater than $500,000.

Eight consultants had combined services for 143,000 acres of corn, 170,500 acres soybeans, 53,250 acres wheat, 122,250 acres pasture and forages, 17,550 acres alfalfa, and 2500 acres of fruits and vegetables. Livestock numbers were 32,200 head of beef, 14,450 dairy cows, 6500 custom heifers, 6250 head of swine and 700 sheep.

A cross tabulation analysis revealed that 39 % of the respondents saved money or increased profits. However, 90% of farmers with incomes of over $250,000 indicated savings and increased profits. This group furthermore attributed improved employee management skills as a newsletter benefit at a grater respond rate compared to the group as a whole.

It would appear that the newsletter is a valued service to subscribers and little needs to be changed as to the regularity of distribution, length of the letter or in technical content. The current method of writing this e-mailed newsletter includes monthly conference calls by County Extension Educators-Agriculture, State Specialists in Agricultural Economics and the Extension Center Specialists for Dairy and Farm Management. Editorship is on a rotating basis.  Additional effort is required to increase both overall subscriptions and distribution through county Extension offices and agriculture service providers. Employer information appears to be a need that is especially important to larger farm operations. As a final thought, one subscriber wrote, “Any article has some value, just keep writing.”

CAT Tax Update and an Important Deadline

Farmers with gross sales of over $150,000 join other commercial businesses subject to a new Ohio tax. (and no, it is not a tax on your barn cats!) As result of this years Ohio Budget Bill, the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) came into being. In a question to the Ohio Department of Taxation, whether farms were included, the reply was as follows: “The CAT was intended as a broad based, low rate privilege tax. As such it applies to farmers and other agricultural enterprises, once these entities reach $150,000 in taxable gross receipts.” A second question was asked about milk and other livestock sales from Ohio farms to out-of-state markets. Would these sales be a part of the gross income figure and subject to the tax? The answer was that “the gross receipt has to be sitused to Ohio. If the dairy farm milk is sold outside Ohio, the farm is not subject to CAT. See the Ohio Revised Code 5751.033 for situsing provision.”

For businesses with gross receipts below $150,000, no CAT is due. For businesses with gross receipts between $150,000 and 1 million dollars, a flat $150 tax will be paid. A tax rate schedule will kick in for businesses with gross receipts over 1 million dollars. All businesses with receipts of over $150,000 per year must pay a one time registration fee, $20 will cover most farms (a $200 maximum fee). Registration deadline is November 15th and on line registration is encouraged (a reduced $15 is charged for web registration). A web link is available to explain more about the CAT and other new Ohio tax information at: . It is very important to register, even if you later determine that you may not be subject to the tax, since a penalty may be imposed at $100 per month, up to $1000, for failure to timely register.

More information from an information letter at a Ohio Department of Taxation site: Also, a draft of the tax form is available by clicking the link below:

Furthermore, the term “situsing” is new to a lot of us, especially as it relates to sales of products outside of Ohio. Peggy Hall, Director of Agricultural and Rural Law Program – Ohio State Universtiy, was good enough to define it for us:

“The ‘situs’ term is used to determine the place over which jurisdiction exists for taxing purposes. The state creates situsing rules to determine whether or not it has taxing powers over property. If a good is ‘sitused’ to Ohio, then the taxing power will exist. In the case of CAT, those goods that are sitused to Ohio will be included within the gross receipts upon which the tax applies. I reviewed the situsing rule for goods such as milk and livestock, and it states that the situs will be Ohio if the good is received in this state by the purchaser. If the good is received outside the state, then the gross receipts from that sale would not be included in the amount to determine if the CAT is applicable.”

Becoming a Better Employer

Maybe you consider yourself to be a good employer. Maybe your employees believe you to be, or, maybe not. If you have had difficulty managing employees, it may be useful to learn a little about some things you can do to become a better employer. Managing people is hard work and takes a lot of practice, patience, and time.

Regardless of whether you are a small farm with only family labor or you employ several people, communication is probably one of the major labor-related challenges you face. For good business communication, everyone in the business needs to take responsibility for making sure information flows to the people who need it. Miscommunication can have many negative effects, including the potential to cost you money, time, opportunities, and can increase the exposure to potential risks. It is the manager’s job to be constantly aware of all the ways miscommunication can happen. It is also important for managers to take proactive steps to prevent miscommunication whenever possible.

One way to prevent miscommunication is to think of communication as coming in two different types: “Hard” and “Soft.” Hard communication refers to the written materials that should already be in place to prevent problems and is the easiest form of communication for most people. Hard communication refers to black and white facts and figures and is frequently accomplished through signs, handbooks, notes, and other ways that communicate simple pieces of information. Something as simple as a bulletin board to post notes, notices, and general information employees need to do their job is a good example of this type of communication. A checksheet that communicates how to complete routine tasks, such as cleaning the milking system, are another example of hard communication. To complete these will require an investment of time and resources and will likely not be completed overnight. The advantage of using hard communication instruments is that they will communicate for you, especially if you tend to shy away from interpersonal communication. Although important to have in place, these will never serve as a substitute for good interpersonal communication.

Soft communication is, for most, a much more difficult form of communication because it involves conveying feelings and emotions. This form is also sensitive to personalities and is usually accomplished through honest conversations between individuals.

One of the best and most important communication instruments is a job description. Job descriptions are important because all too often employees and employers have different perceptions about what an employee’s responsibilities are and how those responsibilities relate to the overall business. The job description allows managers and employees to each have the same expectations about what is required to be successful. Job descriptions can also be used when recruiting, interviewing, and selecting job applicants.

Not only will job descriptions assist your present employees, but will be especially useful when selecting a new employee. Selecting employees is a process of making a long-term decision based on a short-term encounter. If you don’t have time to do something right the first time, how are you going to find time to do it a second time? Employee turnover is a tremendous headache for managers and costs the business in many ways.

Evaluating applicants can be done using a variety of methods, including written applications, interviews, tests, and checking references. Written applications are useful because they can determine an applicant’s literacy level and basic technical knowledge. Interviews might also test knowledge, but they also reveal a lot about personality. Assuming you have two equally qualified candidates, personality is often a determining factor in which candidate is offered the job.

Interviews are a very popular selection tool, but like anything else, you only get out of the process what you put into it. Involving future co-workers in the process of developing questions and participating in the interview process is encouraged because your present employees know best the jobs to be done and, because they will be working day-to-day with this person, their opinions should be considered. It is difficult to do, but as you interview applicants, avoid basing your decisions on first impressions and do not make up your mind until you have interviewed all applicants. Make certain you ask all applicants the same questions and take notes during the process. After each interview, take a few minutes to compare notes and summarize your thoughts.

Managing people is sometimes difficult even for the best managers. However, investing time and effort to build good communication systems, creating and using job descriptions, and using suggested interview techniques can help make you a better employer.

If you have an interest in employee management, you may want to consider attending the Employee Management for Production Agriculture conference scheduled December 8 & 9 in Kansas City, Missouri. For more information on this conference, see the article immediately below.

(Adapted from materials developed by Sarah Fogleman, Kansas State University Extension.)

Grain Marketing Outlook

New crop corn prices have remained steady over the past month, having closed between $2.00 and $2.10 since September 12. The market has remained focused on the size of the US harvest, as good weather has permitted a quick soybean harvest, and a timely beginning of the corn harvest. Opinions were already set that the September yield estimate was itself still too low were confirmed by the early harvest returns and were incorporated in the October Crop Production report.

Soybeans have remained in the $5.50-$6.00 range since September. The October crop production estimates indicated higher yields, and a larger harvest, but both increases were smaller than expected. Soybean prices rallied on the news, but ultimately, there hasn’t been enough to push prices any direction but sideways. The near-term outlook for soybeans remains range-bound, with weakening cash prices. As I wrote last month, I am still worried about the level of prices once attention turns to 2006 plantings.

The complete updated Grain Marketing Outlook is available from Dr. Roberts at:

Growers to See Changes in Nitrogen Application Recommendations

Nitrogen application recommendations for Midwest farmers will soon be changing, mainly driven by a need to be more cost efficient as fertilizer prices continue to rise.

Historically, tri-state (Michigan, Ohio, Indiana) fertilizer recommendations for field crops have offered optimum nitrogen rates based on the maximum yield potential for a particular area. For example, to achieve an average yield of 175 bushels per acre of corn in northwest Ohio, farmers should apply 196 pounds of nitrogen. This amount ensures the crop suffers no nitrogen deficiency.

Such a system, however, relies on the fact that nitrogen is inexpensive and over-application is not too costly, said Robert Mullen, an Ohio State University soil scientist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Both are no longer the case.

“This approach has served agriculture well. The economic detriment due to over-application has historically been small from an economic standpoint,” said Mullen. “But as nitrogen prices have risen over the past several years, the economic penalty for over-application has reached a point where economic considerations need to be made. Producers, especially those managing large acreages, are beginning to look at fertilizer nitrogen application from an economic standpoint.”

Fertility specialists throughout the Corn Belt have devised a new system that bases optimum nitrogen rates on the current price of fertilizer and the average price of the crop. So, if nitrogen is 25 cents per pound and the price of corn is $2.50 a bushel, to achieve 175 bushels per acre of corn in northwest Ohio, the best nitrogen rate would be 156 pounds, with an application range of 150 to 180 pounds. As the cost of nitrogen or the price of corn changes, the optimum rate of nitrogen also changes.

“It boils down to an exercise in risk management. The old system uses a single value, while this new system gives farmers a range to work with,” said Mullen. “If farmers are risk averse, they can use the high side of the rate range. If they are more willing to accept risk, they can use a lower side of the rate range, increasing their potential for economic reward.”

Mullen said that the current fertilizer recommendations needed to be updated for several reasons.

“One reason is that the system assumes the soil is a blank medium and devoid of natural nitrogen. We know that’s not true,” said Mullen. “And the problem we run into is that we don’t know exactly how much nitrogen is in the soil and how much will be available to the crop. The release of nitrogen is dependent on the weather, so there’s always a possibility of adding more or less nitrogen to the soil than is needed.”

Another point Mullen made is that nitrogen applied to the soil always reaches a point of saturation, and yield eventually levels off no matter how much more nitrogen is added. As a result, farmers are potentially wasting money on unneeded nitrogen using the current nitrogen recommendations.

“Is it always economical to shoot for maximum yield? Research has shown that it’s not,” said Mullen. “It may take the same amount of nitrogen to reach 179 bushels per acre as it does to only reach 170 bushels per acre. It’s impossible to determine at what point the nitrogen level is reached to where it is no longer a benefit to gain more yield without a nitrogen rate trial in every field.”

The new nitrogen application recommendations will be the focus of Mullen’s extension presentations during producer and consultant meetings and field days this fall and winter. Ohio State University Extension fact sheets and bulletins will highlight changes to the current tri-state recommendations beginning this winter.

When Japanese Markets Re-open to US Beef, Will Your Cattle Be Qualified for Export?

Cattle farmers are anticipating the re-opening of the Japanese markets to US beef. Since December 23, 2003 – the date of the first announced BSE case on US soil – US cattle and beef have been prohibited from entering this lucrative market. After lengthy negotiations and technical discussions between Japan and United States, it appears that Japan will start accepting US beef some time during 2006.

However, not all cattle will qualify as a source of beef for Japanese markets. Cattle that do qualify are likely to be more highly valued at market. However, it may also be more costly for you to meet these requirements. The best decision for you will require some pencil-pushing for your particular situation.

USDA has established guidelines to qualify cattle for Japanese export. To qualify, cattle must be part of a USDA-approved Quality System Assessment (QSA) program. While each program may have unique features, the basic elements will require the producer to identify animals, document birth dates and have a written management system.

In order to find out more about how you can qualify your cattle as a source for eventual beef exports, click below: