New Website, Peer Advisory Groups, User Conference, "Best Practices" to Crop Production Centers, Voidng Checks
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 FarmSMART                                                    August 2011 

In this Issue:

New Website

Peer Advisory Groups 

 User Conference

"Best Practices" to Crop Production Centers

Voidng Checks

FBS Users in the News

September Free Webinars


Visit our Website


Stay in Touch

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Follow-up Links
Click here to learn about the Pork Profit Center Dashboard


Want to avoid "herd mentality" in your operation by thinking "outside your farm?" 

Herd Mentality
Don't be the victim of "herd mentality."

 Then read (and act on) this month's articles on Peer Advisory Groups and the FBS User Conference

Also learn how to apply "best practices" to organizing your crop production centers and void checks.  Plus read about some prominent pork producers as well as schedule your free web training in September.   


Think "Outside Your Farm" Through Peer Advisory Groups  

Think Outside the Farm
Think outside your farm by adapting best practices from other ag executives. 

 "Human beings, who are almost unique in the ability to learn from the experiences of others, are also remarkable for their disinclination to do so."

 Douglas Adams, author of The Breakthrough Company 

Danny KlinefelterFarm management guru Danny Klinefelter recently challenged the Farm Financial Standards Council (FFSC) to encourage peer advisory groups (PAGs) as the most effective way to drive continuous management improvements among farmers.

Klinefelter, who helped launch the FFSC, co-authoredCoordinated Financial Statements for Agriculture (which FBS turned into software), founded TEPAP (The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers and AAPEX (Association of Agricultural Production Executives ), sees PAGs as "a cost effective way to help farm CEOs address the need for continual exposure to different perspectives and new ideas, as well as providing a way to continue the never ending process of finding ways to become better managers." 

Compared to the mass-market and/or provincial approach followed by the Cooperative Extension Service in the 20th Century, PAGs tend to be very small and elite, providing a "board of directors" perspective from outside the local community and complementary strengths, experience and performance benchmarks. According to Klinefelter, "Even the best farmers aren't good at everything. Benchmarking performance and best practices can help build on strengths and compensate for weaknesses. There is too much time and effort being spent by individual producers trying to reinvent the wheel. Networks can help find answers and solutions that already exist." 

We heartily agree with Danny's goals. In fact, that's the theme of this year's FBS User Conference, which besides being a great networking opportunity highlights:

  • Best practices of FBS users
  • Producer panels
  • Crop cost benchmarking
  • Organizing a peer advisory group

"If you want to get good," advises Klinefelter, "soar with the eagles; don't scratch with the turkeys."

Howard and Barbara Doster, fam managment coaches who have been facilitating Peer Farm Advisory groups since 1975, will be presenting "Peer Advisory Group Success Stories" at the FBS User Conference on September 1.  For more information or to register, click here. 


User Conference Deadline Approaches 

User Conference Speaks
This year's guest presenters include Joe Dykhuis, Moe Russell, John McNutt and Barbara and Howard Doster

 "It was a great learning experience for me. I would say that it was the best conference I have attended."

2010 Conference Attendee 

User Conference Sharing
Learn from other FBS users.

There's still time to network with FBS users from across North America at the premier training opportunity of the year.  Co-sponsored this year byDTN/Progressive Farmer Magazine, the FBS User Conference concentrates this year on "best practices" successful operations have developed for data collection, reporting and analysis. 

Moe Russell
Learn from management experts like Moe Russell.

 Attendees can choose between single or two-day registrations. 

 The Wednesday, August 31 plenary session covers these topics: 

  • What's New with FBS Software.  
  • How "Best Practices" Improve Effectiveness, Efficiency, Control and Compliance
  • New DTN "Cool Tools." 
  • New User Panel:  "How We're Converting to an Integrated System." 
  • Keynote by Joe Dykhuis "How We Make Quality Decisions Through Quality Information in a Large Production System." 
  • Crop Cost of Production Benchmarks with Moe Russell and John McNutt
  • User Panel: "Technology Breakthroughs and Business Opportunities." 
  • Prime Rib Mississippi River Cruise sponsored by: 

 DTN Logo 

The Thursday, September 1, breakout sessions cover these topics: 

    • Peer Advisory Group Success Stories.
    • 10 Tips to Enhance Your FBS Experience.
    • User-Defined Reports and Macros.
    • Budgets on a Roll.
    • Managerial Accounting Issues.
    • Tracking Markets, Contracts and Margins.
    • Going Paperless.
    • Asset Tracking.
    • Building Dashboards.
    • Understanding Report Generator.
    • Precision Farming Interfaces.
    • Farm Management Firm Issues.
    • Configuring Complex/Unconventional Operations.
    • Accountant/Service Bureau Forum.
    • Payroll/Hired Labor Tracking Issues.  

The Conference is conveniently located at the Stoney Creek Inn on the shore of the Mississippi River in Moline, Illinois, just off of Interstates 80 and 74 and serviced by four major airlines.  

For an updated program or to register, click here  or call 800-437-7638. 

Hurry; hotel availability is very limited and the registration deadline is Friday, August 26th. 

Apply "Best Practices" to Crop Production Centers

Editor's noteThis article continues a new series on the "best practices" FBS users have developed to improve effectiveness, efficiency, internal control and compliance from their information system.  We'll also be covering a full range of best practices at the 2011 FBS Users Conference. To contribute your best practices visit our blogsite.

 Production Centers are the crucial framework for production reporting, inventory control and management accounting in a cropping operation. In order to provide meaningful reports and simplified data entry they need to be organized in a standardized hierarchy based on these levels: 

Level I: Commodity

The primary production center definition is commodity (or product). That can be represented generically by "Corn," "Wheat," or "Soybeans," but also be expanded to include "White Corn," "Silage," or "Non-GMO Soybeans." You should consider going beyond the "generic" definition if you desire the following:

  • You need to segregate inventories (for example, identity-preserved crops).
  • The crop is harvested in different units ("bushels" vs. "tons").
  • You want to compare costs and returns between products.

Level II: Crop Year 

The next level is crop year, which customarily refers to the year the crop is harvested. What complicates crop year accounting is that the production and marketing periods often overlap the calendar or fiscal years used for tax reporting. Yet it's critical to track crop year because of these requirements:

  • Proving yields for FSA and crop insurance.
  • Marketing and inventory control.
  • Matching costs to production and sales.

Level III: Farm*   

The last level incorporates the farm into the production center hierarchy. Why would you consider this?

  • Multiple rented farms with significant variations in yields, land costs and operating costs.
  • The need, desire and dedication to track costs and margins by commodity and farm.

You should never create separate centers for individual fields; that level of detail is achieved through FBS fields/projects within centers. (This option will be covered in a later chapter.) 

* Don't attempt to go to this level of coding and analysis unless you're using Crop Audit for allocating seed and E.CLIPSE for allocating indirect costs and have successfully run at least a year at Level II. 

Hierarchy and Coding 

Figure 1 illustrates the hierarchy among these three levels.

A coding system using this hierarchy would begin with the commodity, followed by the crop year and conclude with the farm.  

Crop Production Center Hierarchy
Figure 1

Figure 2 shows a four-digit numeric system where the first digit represents the commodity (1 = "Corn" and 2 = "Seed Corn"), the second two digits represent the year ("09") and the last digit represents the farm or operator (for example 2 = "W.N."). This design will accommodate up to ten commodities and ten farms. 

Crop Center Figure 2
Figure 2

Figure 3 incorporates an alpha code in the farm position, increasing the capacity to 52 farms (when including lower-, as well as upper-case letters). 

Crop Center Figure 3
Figure 3

Figure 4 expands the center codes to six digits, with the first digit representing the commodity, the next three digits the farm and the last two the crop year. The effective capacity of this numeric system is 1000 farms. Note, though, that the hierarch here is commodity-farm-crop year versus the commodity-crop year-farm used in the other examples. 

Crop Center Figure 4
Figure 4

Although the solutions vary in each of these examples, all represent "Best Practices" for each of these FBS Users. 

Visited Our Website Yet?
FBS Systems Home PageThere's a wealth of timely information waiting your inspection at our new website. Check them out now by clicking on the image or any of the links below.

To start your tour, click on the image above. 

Leave comments or suggestions regarding our website.

Q&A of the Month--Voiding Checks 
Sarah Dixon
Sarah Dixon, FBS Technical Services Manager.

 Q.  What's the best way to void checks? 

A.  There are two ways to void a check in TransAction Plus.

  1. If you want to keep a record within your general ledger that the check was written, then voided, go to the original check and remove the amount and put "Void" in the Description. You can also change the vendor to "Void" if you don't want to keep track of which vendor the check was originally written to. 
  2. The other way to void a check is simple to delete the original check. TransAction Plus maintains a full audit trail of all deleted entries including the Date Deleted.  Just go to Accounting Other Reports | Deleted Entries to view.
FBS Users in the News 

Mark Legan, Indiana pork producer and chair of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) compeitive markets committee, was quoted in the June 20, 2001 issue of Feedstuffs magazine voicing his concern over the propose competive markets rule by the USDA' Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). 

Minnesota pork producer Kevin Huguson made the cover of the July 15, 2011 National Hog Farmer as a member of the magazine's "stellar panel of four pork industry experts" who reviewed new products at the World Pork Expo.

September Free Webinar ScheduleWebinar Screen

 Getting Ready for Harvest, September 12.

Smart Feeder Reports, September 18.

Fine-Tuning Budgets, September 26. 

To register, e-mail by 9:00 am CDT on the day of thewebinar.


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