Annual report provides snapshot of SD agriculture |

Annual report provides snapshot of SD agriculture

Kathy Meland
Instructor, S.D. Center for Farm/Ranch Management

The SD Center for Farm/Ranch Business Management recently published the 2013 Annual Report. I realize many of you are not fond of numbers and this report contains a bunch of them! So, I think it might be best to explain how the numbers are compiled.

First of all, this database would not exist without our students, who have paid tuition to enroll in our program, which is offered through Mitchell Technical Institute. The “classes” consist of on-site farm visits throughout the year with most of that time devoted to helping producers develop a better recordkeeping system. A key element in analyzing farm profitability is collecting accurate financial data at the beginning of the year and comparing that to the end-of-year data. For many farm families, that usually involves upgrading their bookkeeping records to a computer-based accounting package and we, as instructors, devote much of our time assisting in this process. Once a good recordkeeping system is established, we monitor progress during the year and offer other suggestions for improving farm management skills.

The other goal our program is compiling all of the information from individual farms into the Annual Report. This data is strictly confidential between the instructor and participant. An individualized analysis report is provided to each farm enrolled in our program. This is a great tool for determining the strengths and weaknesses in their own operation when compared to the “Sweet Sixteen” ratios/measurements developed by the Farm Financial Standards Council. We are also able to compare your farm’s performance against various other benchmarks.

The Annual Report might seem overwhelming with over 50 pages of data; however, it is organized under three main categories: Farm Profitability, Crop Enterprises, Livestock Enterprises, and Historical Trends. The results for each category are listed under Average Farms, High Return Farms, and Low Return Farms. This report provides a great overview of the financial status of farming operations in South Dakota and can be found on-line at our web-site: under the Resources heading,

I, along with my fellow instructors, would like to thank all of our clients for participating in this program. For more information on how to enroll in next year’s program, please contact the SD Center for Farm/Ranch Management at 1-800-684-1969 or email me at