It is the time of year for many questions that lead back to tax preparation.
Here is a link to the current IRS Farmer’s Tax Guide
We are also seeing more scrutiny being placed on the distinction between “agricultural” employees compared to “retail” or “non-ag” employees. Owners of businesses that diversify, take on retail operations or manage non-traditional farm activities will want to get familiar with the legal thresholds on employee classification. Read more in the IRS Publication 51: Agricultural Employers Tax Guide. Look at sections relating to Form 943 starting on page 18.
I see green ($) when I see well managed pastures. Improved pasture management can lead to increased weight grain per day for meat production and improved income over feed costs in dairy operations.
Troy Bishopp at Central New York RC&D has just posted new 2014-15 Planned Grazing Charts. Go this link to download a chart for yourself:
Charts are available for 10,20 and up to 40 paddock systems
UVM Extension Crop Insurance specialist Pam Smith has just posted a sheet with key crop insurance dates for 2014. Click this link below to see details on a variety of crop and revenue insurance programs and the sign up deadlines for each:
2014 Key Crop Insurance Dates
Mark your calendar for VT Farm Show on January 28-30. Be sure to find the UVM Extension Farm Viability table in the trade show. Come speak with one of our farm business specialists and learn how our program can advance your business goals.
Here is a question that we received this week, “….I am a farm owner and I have employees that live in housing on the farm. What are my rights or responsibilities if I decide to terminate the employee or terminate the housing agreement? Since the housing is linked to employment is this different than a standard renter/landlord situation?”
There are a variety of things to consider when setting up a housing agreement with a farm employee. There are also a number of laws that needs to be considered. In 2010 the VT Legislature passed Act 89 “An Act Relating to the Termination of Occupancy of Farm Employee Housing”. Click Here to read Act 89: ACT089_VT Statute
UVM Extension Farming Across Cultures Program has also posted this resource sheet that describes the specific steps a farm owner/landlord can take if employment or housing arrangements are to be terminated. Click this link to their: http://www.uvm.edu/extension/agriculture/faccp/files/aglabor_housing/farm_housing_statute.pdf
Farm owners can also contact the VT Department of Housing and Community Development to find resources for landlords. Click here for their website: http://accd.vermont.gov/strong_communities/housing/housing_resources/rental
Despite the lack of clarity and challenges of the new national Affordable Care Act, farm employers must prepare to set up the appropriate health care options for their employees (or make the accurate determination that no plans will be offered).
Farm Credit East just posted a detailed webinar: (click below to link to webinar)
The Affordable Care Act:What Farmers Need to Know
Farm owners and farm business advisers should review this material and plan to keep up with current news to determine if and how they need to provide coverage for employees. * It is important to research the specific policies in each state. For example, the State of Vermont law only provides an exemption for 4 or less employees. That is very different than the federal exemption of 50 or less employees. Farms in VT whose employee base meets the criteria of 5 or more full time employees may be required to provide health care or to pay a penalty if care is not provided.
Vermont farm owners can research their particular situation at VT Health Connect: Small Business Resources
We have just posted a Farm Employer Fact Sheet to our Resource Library.
[We have just updated the sheet. We found an error relating to the VT laws related to the new Affordable Care Act]
Are you in compliance with labor laws? Do you know who to contact if you have questions? This general overview explains the basic steps to getting a employee set up, basic workers compensation issues, Affordable Care Act updates and key agency resources to contact for more information.
Check it out the, click here: Farm Employer Overview
What do we think will happen to beef markets? Traditionally we have had smaller producers in VT that often have higher costs of production, processing and distribution. But we have also seen a good deal of innovation in rotational grazing and grass-based beef producers that are able to target customers seeking the various attributes of a grass-based meat. But we can’t lose sight of our competition. Ireland has excelled at all forms of grass based farming, including dairy and beef.Grass-finished beef is the commodity beef in Ireland, it’s the norm.
Check out this article about Irish beef setting their sights on US markets
As winter approaches UVM Extension Farm Viability has been lining up a number of business program options to meet the diverse needs of farms in VT. Here is a quick list of current events and programs. Contact us to register for one that will advance your business planning today! Subscribe to the blog for occasional updates (over on the right) and forward this link to your farming friends that have never worked with Farm Viability.
Management Mondays: 20-30 minute webinars covering hot topics in farm business (click this link for the schedule)
Maple Business Benchmark: this new program will work one-on-one with maple producers to evaluate the financial performance for their business. As numbers grow in the program we will publish overviews of financial performance at different scales of production. (click here to learn more)
Full Business Plans, Cash Flow Analysis, Enterprise Analysis and Dairy Management Teams. This has been our core program for over 10 years. Go to the “Programs for Farmers” to see a summary of these options or click this link for an application
New farm transfer planning guidelines on the way! We are working with the statewide Farm Viability Program to make sure transfer planning can support all the unique family and non-family transfer scenarios we see on Vermont farms today.
Our resource library continues to grow with additions of fact sheets and financial templates to assist farm managers. Click here to browse the Resource Library
Today we spent the day visiting with “technologists” and seeing their state of the art demonstration farm at the Greenmount Campus. College of Agriculture, Farms and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at Greenmount provides various levels of vocational, technical and advanced agriculture degree programs in Northern Ireland. http://www.cafre.ac.uk/index.htmThey have just completed work on a nee dairy demonstration facility. The 150 cow herd has moved off grazing land and into the barn for the winter season. The facility features padded floors at key spots, robotic alley cleaners and an innovative manure/urine separator floor (see image below). The floor scraper separates urine and manure to reduce the mixing that promotes ammonia volatilization. They expect this is several years ahead of an industry that is soon approaching numerous innovations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on farms.
low ammonia alley scraper
On the greener side, we saw horticulture demonstrations, testing numerous late season and winter ornamental crops that could add off season cash flow to nursery and greenhouses. It is not uncommon here for a live
stock farm to also manage an ornamental hoop house for another source of income. Crops include: ornamental cabbage, winter rose and cyclamen(see below)