Success Stories

AgManager®:  A Program Tailored to Our Needs

The Challenge

“Computers scared me!” Eva Schaefer admits with a laugh, “and I did not want to get involved with using them.” Having learned of AgManager® through the Farm Bureau, Eva knew that it could be the answer to their need: handling the production and financial data of their farm operation. Their farm operation is made up of five entities including grain, livestock, and trucking. With a total of 50,000 hogs and a “small” farm, this family-run operation involves husband, wife, son and seven employees. Part of her aversion to computers was the fear of using them. Another aspect of her apprehension was grounded in the work ethic which had been ingrained in her as she grew up. That work ethic was based on physical activity, being outdoors and actively involved in the day-to-day chores of the farm. Sitting at a desk and managing from an office, was NOT Eva’s idea of “real work.” Despite her objections, Eva’s husband made the decision to use AgManager®. Part of his rationale for this choice was the need for current reports to meet requests from financial institutions. They had been using the Farm Business/Farm Management accounting which was done once a year, but those annual reports were not current enough to satisfy bankers.

The Result

Since they began using AgManager®, Eva has learned to focus on knowledge-based management more than task-based. As she studies current information generated by AgManager®, her business decisions are wise ones based on current information. Sound decisions made in the office positively affect the whole operation. Eva has also discovered other benefits of using AgManager® through AgriSolutions. Tax preparation by someone familiar with AgManager® helps make filing taxes much easier. When special needs arise within their operation, Eva can depend upon AgriSolutions to recommend outside contacts to provide special services. She also reports, “Because our operation is five entities, we have an inter-company activity that can now be separated out by the entity. We have been able to track when one entity owes another, etc. Because of our use of this program, we got rid of the farrowing part of our operation and now buy feeder pigs (strictly a wean-to-finish operation).” These kinds of day-to-day sound business decisions are made possible because of the data provided through AgManager®.

From Loan Applicant to Bank Board Member

The Challenge

When Bob Wieland asked to borrow a significant amount of money from a bank, he was not surprised when the banker responded that Bob’s expectations for future farm earnings were “too high!” What he needed was an accounting system that would sort through all the production and financial data, then break down and process that data to provide the information required for making management decisions (corn v. soybeans in any particular field, for example). This information would have to be readily available, current, specific (exact data on every field) and in an easily deciphered format.

The Result

Not easily discouraged, Bob invited the banker to come to his office and inspect the records for himself. Bob had confidence when he arranged that inspection because of the current, accurate data provided by AgManager®. As Bob explains, ” AgManager® shows the numbers which are important for them to see.” When the banker had studied Bob’s meticulous records with exact data on every field, the banker was so impressed that he not only gave Bob the loan but also invited him to join the bank board! Bob remains a member of that bank board to this day. Bob began using AgManager® over twenty years ago and has never looked back. AgManager® provides production and financial records combined with GPS maps, giving Bob “more information and data to make management decisions.” Over the years, his farming operation has grown considerably, producing corn, soybeans, and pumpkins. Bob has found the program not only helps him in providing the information bankers need to see, but also in providing information necessary for government programs and when making sound management decisions. The program breaks down data to allow him to determine exactly how much to pay for cash rent, to see the exact progress of the farm and print out records for landlords.

NOT Just Another Software Program

The Challenge

Andy Young knew he needed to drill efficiently down and manage the business operations for his growing dairy operation, Red Knob Farms. Andy had a hard time finding a tool to help him and the management team revolutionize their management processes and provide the necessary detailed data analysis? With 900 milk cows and 900 heifers plus harvesting 1000 acres of forage from no-till, intensive double-cropped farmland, Red Knob Farms is a thriving operation.

The Result

They decided on AgriSoultions because AgriSoultions offered the best opportunity to move to managerial reporting. After initial talks in late 2004, Red Knob Farms acted quickly, signing on at the start of 2005 to become one of the first dairy operations to join AgriSolutions. The AgriSolutions software is NOT a simple, bare-bones accounting system. In any software system, the information you get out is only as good as the data you put in.  Managerial accounting does require some additional data to use it to its full potential. As Andy explains, “You must put data in to get information out. For the first time, Andy and his management staff feel they have a firm grasp on what the data means. Red Knob Farms has found that they are learning how to gain more and more valuable information from the program. Now the program is providing to their operation the detailed information they had been lacking, a need that prompted their transition to managerial accounting.

Bringing Kyle and Kerri Home

The Challenge

Family has always been an important focus of the Mehmen farming operation, which includes commercial corn and soybean production along with three business entities: a trucking company, a seed business and a pig building construction business. Both Stan and Karmen’s parents and grandparents had been farmers since their arrival in this country from Europe. With that rich farming heritage, Stan and Karmen were eager to have their son Kyle and his wife Kerri join them on the family farm and continue the Mehmen farming legacy. However, after completion of his university degree, Kyle began working as a chemical sales representative. Although the Mehmens strongly desired to bring Kyle and Kerri home to join them as part of their farming operation, they were uncertain of the financial and interpersonal implications of that decision. They knew that they needed a third party to whom all family members could openly express their desires and concerns. Also, they needed a consultant who could carefully analyze the financial aspects of their operation and the impact of bringing Kyle and Kerri into the business.

The Results

The Mehmens realized that just such a person existed, someone who knew them and their operation well and who had the best interests of their operation and family at heart. Karmen explained how their AgriSolutions consultant, Daryl, was vital in bringing Kyle and Kerri back to the farm: “Our consultant helped us prepare for the transition by conducting personality tests, analyzing our fears and desires and delineating responsibilities. He helped with the budget process and feasibility study, and helps us analyze our status at the end of this year. Having a third party involved, someone that all family members could consult with confidence, was crucial in this important step for our operation.” With Daryl’s help, Stan and Karmen were able to bring Kyle and Kerri home to join them in the Mehmen family farming operation, with Kyle being the third-generation Mehmen to work on this farm. Now, all four Mehmens work together to keep the business running smoothly, each bringing to the operation specialized abilities and strengths. As Stan and Karmen learned, the expertise of AgriSolutions personnel, combined with the AgManager® software, data collection, analysis and benchmarking tools, help with strategic decision-making in all aspects of farming operations.

Controlling those “Manageable Numbers” through Current Info

The Challenge

Even though David Gillen had used the Farm Business Management accounting program for his farm operation since 1984, the yearly data generated by that program was not meeting his needs for on-going information. Farming 3200 acres of grain and running a pheasant hunting business (with just one full-time employee in addition to himself and his wife) he needed readily-available, current data with constant updates. David also wanted a comparison of his operation with operations in other parts of the country, not just with the 100 others provided through the accounting program he was using. Based on his desire for current data and more comprehensive comparison of his operation, David chose to begin using the AgManager® accounting program.

The Result

Right away, in his first year of using AgManager®, David was impressed with the always-current, readily-available information and the comparison of his operation to all farms in the Midwest. He also found that he could control “manageable numbers” such as machine costs and develop a business plan with asset turnover ratio. Managing these figures became possible because of the cost comparison of machinery, allocated per crop, per acre and other specific data provided through AgManager®. With that data, David could make solid business decisions, implementing changes as needed in his operation. Staying current is important to David. He praises AgManager® for providing up-to-date, detailed data on his operation and AgriSolutions for program updates each year which allows the program to adapt quickly to new technology as it is developed. David points out that, at first look, the AgManager® program may seem overwhelming, with a lot of new things to learn. However, he encourages potential users to take the plunge and to stick with it. After using AgManager for one year, David describes it as “very, very user-friendly.” He has been helped along the way by AgriSolutions’ support team which is “only a phone call away.”

The Power of the AgriSoultions Program: Growing with your operation

The Challenge

Every business as if grows and develops needs an accounting program that can be customized to fit its changing needs. John represents the third generation of his family to farm at the present location and the fourth generation in California. The family-owned and run Fiscalini dairy operation includes 1500 Holstein dairy cows, 1300 replacement animals, a thriving cheese-making enterprise and 530 acres with crops to feed the cows.

The Result

The Fiscalini dairy has been with AgriSoultions program since the early 90’s. John first became acquainted with AgriSoultions through his work as a member of the board of the National Dairy Heard Improvement Association. The association was trying to collect milk and reproduction records of dairy cows across the U.S. to be combined with financial data to help managers improve milk deficiency. Looking at potential vendors of programs to track financial information, John found AgriSolutions. John decided to make the change when he saw the potential AgriSolutions and AgManager would have for his operation. He recognized there are many kinds of information needed by dairy farmers which the program can provide, such as replacement cow costs, parlor costs, weight gain, breeding size, heard growth benchmarking and more. John plans to use the program more extensively in the future to gather more of this vital information.

Exactly What I Need, Right at my Finger Tips

The Challenge

Mark Erdman is a busy man. With 450 cows to milk, 800 acres of corn, hay and soybeans and 10,000 pigs to run through his finishing operation each year, there is no time to waste. Tasks such as statistical analysis and preparation of financial statements, while vital to sound management, can become overwhelming. How can today’s farmers, running full-tilt while managing his growing operation, efficiently handle necessary bookkeeping and data management? Until the Erdmans acquired their first computer, books for this growing operation were done by hand. Mark describes himself at that time as “totally illiterate with computers.” Mark’s dad remains actively involved, and Mark’s mom still serves as the bookkeeper. The desire for efficacy and sound management along with steady growth and diversification prompted the Erdman family to that advantage of services offered through AgriSolutions.

The Result

“I didn’t even know how to turn the computer on!” Mark admitted. The AgriSoultions personnel took the time to help the Erdmans’ and made the transition into the digital age a success. “I couldn’t do it without the support team,” Mark said, “they are magicians. They are always there for me, and they know the program well.” Use of AgManager has revolutionized the Erdman’s management of their operation by providing them with always up-to-date information and tracking of assets and liabilities “to the penny.” Having needed information available “right at your fingertips,” it is important to busy farmers, and Mark praises AgManager for doing just that. AgManager helps him to manage the operation more efficiently. The program allows him to separate data according to activity centers (Profit and coats centers) that make up the operation, providing him with detailed information about each activity center which he needs to make solid business decisions.

Don’t be stuck in the 1970’s.

The Challenge

Karmen has kept the records for the Mehmen’s farming operation for over 30 years. As she says, “Even though I knew in certain years that things were not as good as they could be, I didn’t know how to analyze the books and find where to target efforts to improve. We were eager to make changes and correct problems, but we did not know where to begin.”

The Result

Karmen has many years of experience in agricultural bookkeeping and accounting. As she explains, her knowledge of accounting for farming operations has advanced over the years. “In the 1970’s, when I started farming, we learned tax accounting. In the 1980’s, we learned about cash flow and balance sheets, and in the 1990’s we learned financial accounting with 16 area of financial standards. In the 2000’s, we learned managerial accounting. The AgriSoultions accounting system, AgMenager, will do all these things” Karmen said, “For those people who are still doing tax accounting, it is imperative that they know that tax accounting is not enough.” Karmen strongly encourages those keeping books for farming operations to start using AgManager. “Even people with limited experience and training in accounting can use this tool successfully,” Karmen said. “The personnel at AgriSoultions will push you to do more than you think you can by encouraging you not to be satisfied with the status quo or being less than the best. They will give you the confidence and encouragement by frequently reminding you not to underestimate your skills.”

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