Feature Story

Mary Kate Wheeler
Farm Business Management Specialist
Cornell Cooperative Extension
South Central New York Dairy and Field Crops

Wheeler, M.*1,
1 Farm Business Management Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Owego, NY, 13827

This entry highlights a feature article that appeared in the Winter 2020 edition of the Small Farms Quarterly. The author, NACAA member Mary Kate Wheeler, works with the South Central NY Dairy and Field Crops Team to deliver educational programming and technical assistance related to farm business management. The team serves dairy and crop producers in six New York counties: Broome, Chemung, Cortland, Onondaga, Tioga and Tompkins.

The “Rate Your Recordkeeping System” article tackles financial recordkeeping, a critical function of any business, yet one that many farms fail to master. Despite the importance of this topic, it rarely generates enthusiasm among agricultural producers. This article takes a creative approach to engage farm operators, inspire them to evaluate their own recordkeeping systems, and challenge them to think critically about possible improvements. By using an interactive quiz format to share best (and worst) management practices, the article invites readers to recognize and rank the features of their own system. The concluding section provides recommendations tailored specifically to meet the needs of different farms, depending on how they score their current system.

Mary Kate wrote and submitted “Rate Your Recordkeeping System” to Small Farms Quarterly for publication in January 2020. The timely publication date pushed the information out to farmers between the end of the year and their income tax filing deadline, a period when farm operators are more attentive to recordkeeping and financial analysis. The Small Farms Quarterly circulates approximately 40,000 print copies, and posts articles to their website.

The article previously appeared in the South Central NY Dairy and Field Crops Team’s December 2019 Dairy Digest newsletter, which reaches 700 subscribers by mail and another 200 digital subscribers by email. The team also shared the article electronically on its blog and Facebook page. Producers have responded with positive feedback about the article, including one dairy operator who proudly posted her high recordkeeping score on her own Facebook page.