Keeping Records for Your Farm

As a small farmer with a small farm business, you might wonder what records you should be keeping, whether for your own purposes, for any grants or other assistance you may have received, or for taxes.

Keeping farm records is a key component of managing your small farm. Farm records serve a number of purposes on the small farm—even if it’s a hobby farm or homestead. Here are some of the reasons to keep farm records.

Monitoring Progress

If you are serious about running your farm, you will want to make sure that you are making progress toward your goals and that you are moving forward on your business plan.

Even if you’re a hobby farmer or homesteader, keeping track can make sure you meet your goals and can help you be more efficient in your work on the farm. Farming is more satisfying when you are making positive progress versus spinning your wheels. Good farm records help you see what works, what doesn’t, and help you figure out why so you can make changes moving forward.

Managing the Farm

Although this is similar to monitoring progress, here it refers to keeping track of things such as how many animals you have, what their health is, what health issues you may have had with them, what you’re feeding them and how much/how often, what vegetable varieties you have, and how they perform. If you keep a detailed farm journal about the specifics of your farm operation—the animals and crops, not just the finances—you’re getting a full picture of how your farm is functioning.

Sometimes you may be succeeding at generating positive income on your farm, but you’re struggling with an aspect of animal care that requires adjustment. Or, you may find that your profits are suffering, and the root cause is that you are simply charging too little. You won’t be able to trace that root cause unless you record how much feed you’re buying and how many chickens that translates into, for example. You need both sides of the equation to run your farm effectively.