Front Cover

Group Title: Conference on Gender Issues in Farming Systems Research and Extenion, University of Florida, February 26 to March 1, 1986
Title: Record-keeping : disseminating technology on a problem identified by the North Florida FSR/E Project
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00081683/00001
 Material Information
Title: Record-keeping : disseminating technology on a problem identified by the North Florida FSR/E Project
Series Title: Conference on Gender Issues in Farming Systems Research and Extenion, University of Florida, February 26 to March 1, 1986
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Watts, Debbie
Publisher: University of Florida
Publication Date: 1986
Subject: University of Florida.   ( lcsh )
Farming   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00081683
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
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        Page 4
        Page 5
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        Page 7
        Page 8
Full Text

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The latest bumper sticker seen on farmers' trucks is, "My

heart's in farming, but my butt's in debt." Farmers' traditional

view of their farm as their "father's old home place" is facing

as debt motivates farm managers to view their farm as a business.

Farming in the United States has become a complexity of

production, financial, and marketing management. As this

intricacy has increased, farmers have been fairly successful at

adopting the latest agronomic technology, but much slower in

employing the financial management practices of the 1980s. As

the saying goes, "tough times don't last, but tough people do."

Thus, it will be up to the "tough" people to apply financial

management practices to survive a future in farming. Management

of financial resources has been identified by lenders and

educators alike as one of the weakest links in the management

complexity. Farmers owe and utilize large amounts of funds, but

fail to keep adequate records for decision-making. Instead,

records, if any, are used for income tax purposes. Even those

who keep records fail to use them fully in asset management and

decision-making. One reason is a lack of training. Producers

need assistance in coordinating a record system and financial

statements, and in analyzing the farm business.

A record-keeping system is one of the most critical and basic

aspects of financial management on the farm. Records, when

properly utilized, provide management with important information.

First of'all, records provide the basis for decision-making on

the farm. As decision-making improves through the use of more

information, i.e. records, the farms become more profitable. As

profits increase, farmers can reduce their debt load or provide a

higher standard of living for the farm family. Secondly, records

help the farm manager project the future in order to plan for

what might happen. One method of contemplating the future is to

complete a cash flow statement which projects cash inflows and

outflows over a specified period of time. This sort of planning

helps relieve the cash flow crises that are occurring frequently

as farmers struggle to survive. In addition, farmers are

currently being required to document repayment capacity of their

farm business to lenders in order to obtain loans. This

information requirement motivates them to keep records. Finally,

records help farmers to evaluate alternatives--both traditional

alternatives and agricultural products "new" to the specific


Farmers in North Florida have not been immune from the

financial crises occurring throughout the United States.

Consequently, farmers and their wives, lenders, and Extension

personnel in the region have identified a critical need for

on-farm financial management skills. As lenders have required

items such as financial statements from farmers, the lenders and

farmers alike have realized a lack of training and education in

farm management. In a needs assessment survey completed in 1985

as a part of the North Florida FSR/E Project, the items

identified as top priority were record-keeping and financial

management. Specific problems identified were farmers':

inability to complete financial statements required by lenders,

lack of budgeting skills, lack of farm and family goal-setting,

attitudes toward farm financial management, and failure to treat

the farm as a business.

In the original Sondeo of the North Florida Farming Systems

Project, initiated in 1981, related problems were identified by

farmers including:

1. difficulties in obtaining credit,

2. insufficient cash flow, and

3. a lack of management time (Schmidt, 1984).

Farmers in North Florida face additional constraints in that they

cannot compete with Midwestern farms in the traditional row crops

such as corn, wheat and soybeans. Production costs in Suwannee

and Columbia Counties, where the project is located, are higher

due to lower soil fertility, increased incidence of diseases and

pests, poor soil moisture retention, and unreliable precipitation

(Schmidt, 1984).

Lack of management time is becoming more severe. Farm

managers are juggling their farm work with off-farm jobs, which

they have taken in order to survive (Gladwin and Butler, 1985).

The pre-test FSR/E survey showed that 47% of small farmers in

Suwannee and Columbia Counties work off-farm. Survey data front a

second statistically valid survey completed in 1984 in the same

counties showed that the principal farm operator works off-farm

on at least a half-time basis on 56 percent of the farms. Fifty

percent hold a full-time off-farm job (Swisher and Smith, 1985).

As farm families have become increasingly dependent on off-farm

income, women have been doing more of the financial

decision-making and farm work (Gladwin, 1985).

At a record-keeping seminar held in Suwannee County in 1984,

78 percent of the participants were farm wives. The wives kept

the records on 58 percent of the farms, the farmer on 22 percent,

and both on 20 percent. Although women do a large part in

record-keeping and other farm work, many simply do not know how

to keep records or how to use them in decision-making. In fact,

the North Florida FSR/E survey showed that only 18 percent of

small farm families keep organized records and only 14 percent

use these records in planning or decision-making. A study done

by Gladwin in North Florida showed similar results where 74% of

the women kept the records on the farm (Gladwin,1984). This

information lead to the development of an eight-week Farmers'

Record-Keeping School where the person who keeps farm records was

targeted for audience participation.

The objectives of the Record School were:

1. to investigate the receptivity of farm families

to record-keeping.

2. to investigate the success/failure of this type of

program, and

3. to provide appropriate technology to small farms on

record-keeping, financial statements, and financial

analysis to help producers better manage their farms.

Hildebrand identified appropriate technology as that which can be

put into practice immediately and under farmers' present

agro-socioconomic conditions (Hildebrand, 1980). Thus, the

School started with the "basics" where participants were given

simple, hands-on exercises and supervised homework assignments in

order that they might start their own record system. The

technology was one which they could put into practice

immediately. The School was purposely targeted to start at the

beginning of a year and during a season when farmers are not busy

with field work.

Preregistration was required of participants in order to

facilitate both ordering of supplies and the conduct of a survey

of participants. A total of 54 persons preregistered and paid to

attend the school. The survey indicated that most clientele were

from diversified farms. Again, it was found that the farm wife

or both the farmer and wife kept the records on most of the

attendants' farms. The farmer alone kept the records on only 11

percent of the farms. Ninety-six percent of the families

participating used records for tax purposes. Percentages showing

other uses decreased drastically: 33 percent used records for

loan purposes and 45 percent used records for management

purposes, although specific management uses were not cited.

Two additional surveys were conducted to test knowledge and

attitudes of participants both before and after the program.

Results of these surveys have not yet been tabulated and


The organization of this Extension program was different

than most in three major aspects: environment, motivational

factors, and cost. Tablecloths were purchased with funds

provided by sponsors and flowers were donated by a local florist

shop. These items were intended to provide an environment

similar to that often provided for business executives and

professionals. Also, the School was held in a large room with

good lighting and temperature conditions.

Motivational factors included refreshments, door prizes, and

certificates. Approximately 15 local businesses within the

five-county area targeted for the School donated from $15 to

$150. Refreshments over the 8-week period included juices,

coffee, nuts, chips, dip, cheeses, sausages, pastries, cookies,

chicken drummettes, and several other party-type foods. Many

participants commented on the delicious refreshments. Door

prizes were given away as an incentive to attend and as an

additional motivation for starting a record system. A filing

cabinet, electric pencil sharpeners, a desktop calculator, and

staplers were among the door prizes given away. Each week a

person attended, he/she could put his/her name in the drawing

box. The drawing was then held the final evening. Certificates

were also given the last evening for attending and successfully

completing the School.

For the benefits received, a relatively minor charge was

assessed those attending. The fee was $20 for the first person

in a family, and $5 for each additional family member or

bookkeeper. The majority of those attending were two-person

families generally consisting of the husband and wife. The cost

covered supplies and a Barbeque Dinner held on the final evening.

Funds were handled through the Small Farms Advisory Board, the

committee which advises the FSR/E team on the needs and problems

of small farms in the Suwannee/Colunbia area.

Publicity was the most important aspect of the School in

terms of attracting both men and women. A program was

professionally printed and 3,500 copies were distributed through

bulk mailings, at sponsor locations, and at Extension offices in

the five North Florida counties. The program included a picture

of both a farmer and his wife on the front cover. The theme used

was, "Farming is YOUR Business." This theme was intended to

develop the attitude that farming is a business, not just a way

of life. Radio and newspaper were the other media for publicity.

Darcy Meeker, professional newswriter for IFAS Editorial, wrote

two articles intended to promote interest in the School (Meeker,

December 1985 and January 1986).

Dr. van Blokland has said that better recordkeeping could

save some 700 Florida farms from the bankruptcy expected for

2,000 of them by April, 1986. It was the intention of this

program not only to help prevent bankruptcy and reduce debt on

farms in the North Florida area, but to assist farm families in

becoming top managers of their farm businesses in order to

survive the farming of the future.


Gladwin, C. and J. Butler
1985 How Not to Lose Your Shirt Gardeninj Circular 601
Florida Cooperative Extension Service, University of

Gladwin, Christina H.
1985 A Women's Farming Systems Research/Extension
Project in Kenya and the U.S.. 1985-88, University
of Florida.

Gladwin, Christina H.
1984 How Florida Women Help the Farm and Agribusiness
Firm Survive, Circular 613, Florida Cooperative
Extension Service, University of Florida.

Hildebrand, P. E.
1980 Motivating Small Farmers. Scientists, and
Technicians to Accept Change, Socioeconomica
Rural, Instituto de Ciencia Y, Guatemala, C.A.

Meeker, Darcy
1985 Economist: Resolve to Keep Better Records to
Make Better Deceisions, various newspapers, IFAS
Editorial, University of Florida.


Help Coming for Florida Farm Families' Record-
Keepin., various newspapers, IFAS Editorial,
University of Florida.

Schmidt, Dwight
1984 Synthesis of North Florida Farming Systems
Project. 1981-1984, University of Florida.

Swisher, M. E. and H. F. Smith
1985 The Best Little Programming Tool in Extension:
Audience Identification, University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL.

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