Annual report provides snapshot of South Dakota agriculture

Farm Forum

The S.D. Center for Farm/Ranch Business Management recently published the 2012 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 program would not exist without our students who have paid tuition to enroll in classes offered through Mitchell Technical Institute. The “classes” consist of on-site farm visits throughout the year with most of that time devoted to helping the 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 the 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 area. 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 report is provided to each farm enrolled in our program. This is a great tool in determining the strengths and weaknesses in their own operation compared to the results of a typical South Dakota farm.

The Annual Report might seem overwhelming with over 50 pages of data; however, it is organized under three main categories: Farm Profitability, Crop Profitability, and Livestock Profitability. 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. I, along with my fellow instructors: Roger DeRouchey, Chris Downs, Terry Hall, David Koupal, and Will Walter, 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 Kathryn.meland@