Business Technology

Agricultural Accounting

Well, Martens Family Farm is finally alive! After months of planning, meetings, more planning, more meetings and more meetings … the business is alive and we are pushing ahead with our plans for an expansion of the hog operation and also freeing up some more time for some partners so that we can continue to push things ahead into the future.

That’s the really exciting part.

The not-so-exciting part is that now we need to keep better track of where money is going, where it is coming from, and what it is being used for and why. That’s the nitty-gritty of what my job is from this point forward. I like to think of my job as “greasing the gears” to make sure that those who know how to farm can continue to do so without needing to worry as much about the money and compliance issues inherit with any business.

Alright, so I lied … that does sound really exciting to me.

What I need now is the ability to easily track income and expenses for an operation where I am only one of for partners and one of any number of people who are going to help on a small-but-growing family operation.

So I get to look at the current state of agricultural accounting software (or just small business accounting software in general, but for use within a farm).

Let me say, I’m not impressed so far.

QuickBooks is the “industry leader” at the moment and so far the online version as a few things going for it:

  1. Access from anywhere.
  2. iOS apps.

Alright, I lied, it really only has two things going for it. Other than that it is a highly complicated and slow web application which has 1000s of options to try to fit into any and all different industries.

I think I also need a basic accounting book to get my head around things.

However, I get the feeling that there has to be something better, easier, and simpler to use to get us started and off the ground. Having a mobile application so that I can easily add income and expenses right where I am would be a bonus.

On the cheap side of things, I have been thinking about trying to use GnuCash to get started. Seeing as it is free and doesn’t try to hem you into any set way of doing things, it looks like a decent lower-tech solution to our problem.

Needless to say I have a lot of work to do as we get things ramped up on our end. I’ll keep posting things as I find them, but I’ll leave with this plea to the software industry at-large:

There is a huge swath of farmers who are nearing retirement age and their younger progeny are going to be taking over the operations or at least taking a more active role in them. There is a huge opportunity to start developing software to serve this industry that doesn’t look like it was written for Windows 95. Do it. We are out there and we want to use software that is good.

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