University releases software to assist in farm management

Joanna Dornfeld

The University Center for Farm Financial Management is releasing three computer software programs this semester that aim to improve farm management and planning.

More than one-half of farmers own computers, and many of them use computer accounting systems, said Dale Nordquist, center associate director. Since 1984, the center has created software to assist farm management and planning nationwide.

“There has been a lot of commercial business plans out there, but nothing that dealt with agriculture,” said Dave Nordquist, center software support manager.

The center released FinPack Business Plan software Monday, designed to create farm business plans.

The software is set up like a standard business planner. It lays out the farmer’s mission, goals and proposal for the future.

The business plan is used primarily by farmers to request a loan from creditors when looking to expand their farms, said Dave Nordquist.

“The lender is not familiar with the numbers,” Dale Nordquist said. “The business plan allows the farmer to put some narrative around the numbers.”

The FinPack Business Plan software costs $145 for Minnesota farmers and $295 for out-of-state farmers.

In conjunction with the North Central Soy Bean Research Program, the center will be releasing Crop Check Internet software on Dec. 1. This software allows corn and soy bean farmers to enter a database and compare their crop yields, profits and farming methods with other farmers in their area.

“The good thing is that all of the information goes through a corn and soy bean grower,” said David Wright, Iowa Soy Bean Association spokesman. “This (program) is unique in that it evaluates product data.”

The program is funded by Midwest soy bean growers associations, so farmers can use the source for free.

In August, the center re-released the FairRent computer software program, updating it to a Windows-based program that sells for $95. The software allows farmers to determine how much they can pay to rent land and still earn a profit.

Farmers enter their overhead costs, projected yields and projected prices into the program, which determines how much the farmer can pay per acre to break even. The farmer is then able to bid on land to earn a profit on the production.

The Center for Farm Financial Management is an independent business affiliated with the University’s applied economics department. It creates farm management software and educates farmers about how to use the software through extension agencies. The software fees sustain the center.

“We don’t envision getting into the day-to-day accounting for things either on the financial or production side,” Dale Nordquist said.

 

Joanna Dornfeld covers the St. Paul campus and welcomes comments at [email protected]