I can remember back several years ago on the first day of a junior high school math class. The teacher gave each student a piece of wood about the size and shape of a quarter. On each side of this wooden piece were the words to and it. He explained that he didn’t like hearing his students and others use the phrase, “I’ll do (you fill in the blank) when I get around to it.” So to solve this problem he gave each of us a “round to-it.” We’ve all used this phrase in our family and business settings because it’s easy to say and do. The start of a new year is often a good time to do those things you’ve been putting off and Ohio State University Extension has a number of resources to help get you moving.
It’s that time of year to figure your income, expenses, and tax liabilities for the year. IRS Publication 225 Farmers Tax Guide is an excellent reference. It provides helpful information about filing taxes and updates about changes in tax laws that may impact you. Copies of this publication are available by contacting your local OSU Extension office.
Whether you use a paper or the Quicken software program to maintain your financial records, OSU Extension has resources to assist you. Several farmers have been in the office recently picking up new forms for the Ohio Commercial Account Book. Some have moved to a computerized software system. If you are thinking of trying Quicken, OSU Extension has developed a comprehensive manual to get you started. A word of advice, regardless of the system you use, don’t tell your wife the receipts for the year are in a bag when she expected you to be entering transactions throughout the year! Farm records are unpleasant enough for many and there is no reason to increase your odds of a divorce.
Each year Ohio State University Extension conducts performance trials at various locations throughout Ohio. Research plots are planted, harvested, and evaluated to assist farmers with making decisions about which varieties to plant based on a variety of factors. The results are published in a comprehensive guide that is available from your local Extension office. Performance trials are conducted for corn, soybeans, and forages.
Ohio State University Extension has a tremendous amount of research based resources available on the Internet. Visit www.ohioline.osu.edu to access bulletins and fact sheets on a number of topics. For information and resources for dairy, go to www.dairy.osu.edu where you will find information about production, management, herd health, and much more. You can also access a monthly newsletter with timely dairy information. If you are looking for information about crop production you will want to check out the Crop Observation and Recommendation Network (C.O.R.N.) at www.corn.osu.edu. The CORN newsletter is published electronically once each week during the growing season and once a month in the off season. It is an excellent and timely resource to keep track of growing conditions and recommendations on weed, insect, and disease problems. Peggy Hall, OSU Extension Legal Educator, also maintains a web site with timely information about legal topics of importance to agriculture. You can access the site at http://ohioaglaw.wordpress.com/.
If you do not have access to the web but would like information from these resources, please contact your local Extension office. In many cases, copies of newsletters can be mailed to you.
OSU Extension has several educators across Ohio trained in using the FINPACK software program housed at the University of Minnesota. FINPACK is a comprehensive software program that allows you to analyze your present performance and evaluate the impact of proposed changes to your farm business. Contact your local Extension office for more information.
A Will is the most basic of any farm transition planning tool and is probably one of those things many put off until they get around to it. Have you developed one? If so, when was it last updated? For those who have developed one, in many cases, it was developed when their children were young and has never been changed. Now their children are grown and have families of their own. Spend some time with an attorney either to develop a Will or update the one you have.
There is a lot that goes into the day-to-day management of a farm today. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the fires that flare up and put off doing some planning for your business. Consider this your “around to-it” and have a profitable 2011.