Difficult Choices

Difficult Decisions - Grain Markets and LendingHarvest is here and it is time to assess storage opportunities in corn and soybean markets.  As a lender, here are a few items that should be on your customer’s minds.

Prices are low

In the Northern Plains, producers are looking at cash soybean prices of $7.30/bushel in southern Minnesota, and as low as $6.75/bushel in North Dakota. The last time we saw prices like this was the harvest of 2007. Corn prices are $3.00/bushel, +/- 20 cents in the same areas. $3 corn at harvest is not profitable and, unfortunately, not new. These prices are all too similar to levels seen in each of the last four harvests. [Read more…]

Does Grain Marketing Improve Profitability?

Does Grain Marketing Improve Profitability?By:  Joleen C. Hadrich and C. Robert Holcomb

Farm managers recognize the importance of having a marketing plan to improve their profitability.  And, the title of Ed Usset’s grain marketing book conveys an important truth- “Grain Marketing is Simple-it’s just not easy!”  In the “Top Farmer”[1] survey, crop producers were asked to categorize the percent of their crop marketed across 3 general categories: pre-harvest contracts (cash contracts, futures, and options), post-harvest contracts (cash contracts, futures, and options) and cash sales (harvest and post-harvest).

In order to compare the highest and lowest performing farms, farm profit performance was measured using an adjusted net farm income ratio[2].  Comparison across performance levels was completed for the “Top Farmers” who were in the highest 20% of financial performance, measured by the adjusted NFI ratio, compared to the lowest 20% of farmers.  In 2016, regardless of whether you were in the highest or the lowest 20% of producers, approximately 34-35% of the overall crop was sold using pre-harvest contracts, futures, or options while another 36-37% was sold through harvest or post-harvest cash sales.  The main difference in marketing between these two groups occurred with post-harvest contracts.  The highest performing farms contract approximately 29% of their crop using some combination of post-harvest cash contracts, futures, and options.  The lowest performing farms only contracted 22-23% of their crop with post-harvest contracts, futures, and/or options.  [Read more…]

Cash Flow Planning Tools

Cash Flow Planning ToolsPutting together cash flow projections for farm clients can be tedious at times.  What is a reasonable feed expense for dairy operations?  Is the projected cost of production on corn acres in line with peers?  These are a few of the questions lenders and other professionals may ask when putting together projections, especially for new customers.  With that in mind, The Center for Farm Financial Management has put together two different cash flow planning tools.  The Minnesota Price and Cost Summary and the FINPACK Livestock Budget Estimates are two aides FINPACK users may find useful in cash flow planning.  These items and more are found in the FINPACK Knowledge Base.

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Mid-Year Monitoring

Cash Flow Monitoring WorksheetSomehow, we are already halfway through the year.  Periodic monitoring of projections that worked earlier this year may prevent surprises or problems later.  Now is a great time to use the cash flow monitoring worksheet to review how the monthly cash flow projection you completed compares to what has actually happened.  This tool is available for both of the monthly projection versions, with or without budgets.  Generating the cash flow monitoring worksheet is done in the cash flow plan that you wish to monitor.  Using this feature allows for timely monitoring of customer progress during the year.  And, if needed, adjustments to the cash flow plan can be made based on the actual data received.   [Read more…]

Spreadsheets vs. Software

Spreadsheets vs Software in Credit AnalysisAre you still using spreadsheets to complete the annual credit analysis on your customers?  Do your spreadsheets provide you the best information on a customer’s financial position?  Have your spreadsheets left you with questions related to your bank’s true risk?  If so, FINPACK Credit Analysis Solutions software is the tool you’ve been looking for! [Read more…]

How to Use the FINPACK Loan Calculator

How to use FINPACK Loan CalculatorThe FINPACK Loan Calculator is a useful tool as you enter or edit loan payment information into a Balance Sheet, Cash Flow Projection, Long Range Plan, or Financial Analysis in FINPACK.  The loan payment details from the Loan Calculator can be pasted into data entry, or it can also be used as a freestanding tool to brainstorm possible loan payment options.  When using the calculator in freestanding mode, the information cannot be pasted into FINPACK.  Here the only option is to View Payment Schedule and print or export the schedule.

There are two types of repayment options in the FINPACK Loan Calculator – amortized payments or fixed-principal payments.  The type of loan being modeled will dictate the specific calculator chosen.  [Read more…]

Top 5 Cash Discrepancy Culprits

Top 5 Reasons for Cash DiscrepanciesThere are always tricky situations that leave you scratching your head on how to get a customer’s year-end analysis balanced when it comes to cash in and cash out.  Whether you are using the Schedule F Cash to Accrual Analysis or the Financial Analysis (FINAN) there are some common culprits to track down cash discrepancies in these tools.
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Why Do Accrual Adjustments Matter?

Why Accrual credit analysis, FINPACK AgricultureCash is king! Every business needs cash to meet its financial obligations. But how much cash a farm generates is not a very good indicator of how the business is performing.  One of the main reasons is cash basis taxation. The right to file taxes based on cash rather than accrual income gives farms tremendous flexibility to manage taxable income. The result is that very high performing farms and farms that are struggling financially often have similar bottom lines on their Schedule F’s. [Read more…]

The Value of a Cost Balance Sheet

Cost balance sheets value assets at purchase price less accumulated depreciation.  This accumulated depreciation can be done using tax or management depreciation methods. Management depreciation differs from tax depreciation by using the economic or useful life of the asset for depreciation calculations.

Using cost balance sheets allow lenders to better monitor the financial performance of the business over time.  With cost balance sheets, net worth growth comes from business retained earnings.  Cost value balance sheets do not have market valuation changes affecting the net worth of the business.  Hence true business performance is measured by the cost balance sheet.

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Handling Trades on the Balance Sheet

Trading machinery and equipment is common for all types of businesses.  The Fall 2017 FINPACK update allows more streamlined data entry of capital purchases, sales, and trades within FINPACK.  By entering extra detail on the FINPACK balance sheet, you can bring the details of these capital transactions into other FINPACK analysis tools, like Schedule F Cash to Accrual and Earned Net Worth Analysis.

On the balance sheet, data entry fields have been added to allow for the entry of purchase price, year sold, and sale price for machinery and equipment; titled vehicles; buildings and improvements; and land.  Purchases or sales of capital assets has very straightforward data entry.  Data entry for a trade should include:

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