Saturday, February 23, 2013

When Does Farming Begin Each Year?

Have you ever wondered when the "new" farming season begins each year? Well, each operation and each year will bring a different answer. Here are some of the most common...
1) A year or two ago
2) Right after taxes are done
3) It doesn't
4) Work begins about 2 months before planting

Why so many different answers? Let's go answer by answer staring with #1.

1) For many farm operations the 2013 farm year really did start several years ago. Farming is a business. If a business is to succeed it needs to have long term goals, a planting and harvest plan, as well as a marketing plan. In addition there needs to be a plan about budget- including machinery purchase, insurance, and employees. Finally, there is also a need for a plan to accomplish all of the goals and plans listed above. None if this can be started and set in place in a short amount of time. They all take time and generally start and are modified anywhere from 3 years to 6 months before they become a reality.

Another reason that the 2014 farming year started quite a while ago is because many farmers sell crop for an upcoming year as early as two years before it is planted. If prices are right and other variables are fairly secure, it is in the farmers interest to lock in a fair price for a portion of their crop.

2) Taxes... Yes, farmers pay taxes. Most of us pay taxes once a year sometime between February and April, depending in the deadline given. Yes, farmers do have some deductions that individuals do not, but it can be compared to many other businesses. Business expenses do reduce the liability. But, I will tell you that I pay my fair share. Deductions are not always in our best interest to maximize and that is where the plans from above come into play. I will also state that I am proud to pay a portion of my income that is reasonable because it is my civic responsibility.

So, now onto the answer you have been looking for.... For many, farmer or non- farmer, when the taxes are finally prepared, liability determined and then paid, there is a feeling if relief and new beginning. That is why some day that the 2013 farm year starts after taxes.

3) It doesn't.... A year only starts when the previous stops.... Some years a farmer is functioning with some things from two years prior and looking and planning two to three years ahead. They all mesh together... which is exactly why detailed records are so important!

4) No farmers don't just park the combine in the shed in the fall and walk into the tractor cab and pull the seeder/ planter into the field and start all over again in the Spring. Farmers are constantly finding new equipment, searching for parts, attending trainings, and repairing and modifying equipment.

Repairing equipment can take as much as 8-10 weeks of regular full-time work. Many times parts and supplies have to be picked up from over 250 miles away. Some of the modifications require slow and steady welding and research in order to get things just right. The majority of farmers also have to truck their crop to local markets or elevators during the winter months. The time between harvest and Spring's work can be a bit slower and perhaps more flexible, but it is never dull!

In short, the coffee drinking donut eating days do not happen very often. If they do, they are not days they are a brief hour or so.

If I were to steal and modify a well known saying... It could be said, " A farmers work is never done." Just look at the text and call record of any farmer's cell on a given day.... I bet there is no less than 20 recorded calls or texts regarding the farm and perhaps percision farming software!


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