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  • Courtney J Garrett

Accounting Tools and Terms for Farms that save you time and MONEY

Running a farm is a diverse and complex business, and managing it properly requires a good understanding of farm accounting. It can be challenging to keep track of all the expenses and income, but with the right accounting tools, it can be made easy.

In this post, we will provide an overview of some key accounting terms and types of forms that farmers should be aware of.


Farm accounting is the process of keeping track of income, expenses, and other financial information related to farm operations. Farmers must keep accurate records of their farm income and expenses and use accounting tools to track their financial position. Farm accounting helps farmers to make informed decisions about their operations, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.

In addition to simple tracking income and expenses, farm accounting also includes recording, analyzing, and summarizing financial transactions and activities related to agricultural operations. It involves the management of financial data, including income, expenses, assets, and liabilities, to provide accurate and up-to-date information about the farm's financial position.

Farm accounting helps farmers monitor their financial performance, assess profitability, and make informed decisions about resource management, budgeting, and investing. It also enables compliance with tax obligations and regulatory requirements.

Effective farm accounting practices involve maintaining detailed records, preparing financial statements such as balance sheets and income statements, and employing various tools and software to streamline financial management.

By implementing proper accounting procedures, farmers can optimize their financial performance, make informed business decisions, and ensure the long-term sustainability and success of their agricultural operations.

Schedule F

The Schedule F form is a tax form that is used by farmers to report their income and expenses. This form is used by farmers who operate a farm for profit and have gross income of at least $1,000 in a tax year. On Schedule F, farmers report their farm income, including sales of livestock, produce, and other products, as well as income from custom work or services.

In addition to income, Schedule F requires farmers to report their expenses, such as feed, fertilizer, seed, rent, and labor costs. The expenses are classified into categories such as farm supplies, taxes, insurance, and repairs, and the total amount is deducted from the farm income to determine the net income or loss. The net income or loss is reported on the farmer's tax return and is used to calculate the farmer's income tax liability.

Balance Sheet

A balance sheet is a financial statement that provides an overview of a farm's financial position. It shows the assets, liabilities, and equity of the farm at a specific point in time. Assets are resources that the farm owns, such as land, equipment, and livestock, while liabilities are debts that the farm owes to others, such as loans and accounts payable. Equity is the difference between the assets and liabilities and represents the owner's investment in the farm.

By comparing the assets and liabilities, the balance sheet provides a snapshot of the farm's financial health. For example, if the assets are greater than the liabilities, the farm has a positive net worth and is considered financially healthy. However, if the liabilities are greater than the assets, the farm has a negative net worth and may have difficulty paying off its debts.

Income Statement

An income statement is a financial statement that shows the revenue and expenses of a farm over a specific period, usually a year. The income statement is divided into two sections: revenue and expenses. Revenue is the income generated from the sale of products or services, while expenses are the costs incurred by the farm to generate revenue.

The difference between the revenue and the expenses is the net income or loss. The income statement helps farmers to assess the profitability of their farm operations and identify areas where they can improve their efficiency and reduce expenses.

Profit and Loss

Profit and loss is a summary of the income statement that shows the net income or loss of a farm for a given period. This information is essential for farmers to gauge whether their farm is profitable or not. Profit is what is left over after all the expenses have been paid, while a loss means that expenses exceeded income. Profit and loss statements are essential tools for farmers to use when making decisions about how to allocate resources and plan for future investments and potential expansion.

Profit and loss statements (also known as P&L statements) are an essential component of farm accounting as they provide a snapshot of the farm's financial performance over a given period. The information they provide is critical for monitoring the farm's financial health, identifying areas where expenses can be reduced, and evaluating the effectiveness of farm management strategies.

Thus, regular preparation of profit and loss statements is crucial for maintaining sound farm accounting practices and making informed business decisions.


Assets are resources that the farm owns and that have economic value. These include land, buildings, equipment, livestock, and crops. The value of these assets is important for calculating the financial health of the farm.

Assets play a crucial role in farm accounting as they represent the resources and investments owned by the farm. Monitoring and valuing these assets accurately helps determine the net worth of the farm and the collateral available for securing loans or financing future investments.

Additionally, tracking the depreciation and appreciation of assets over time is important for making informed decisions regarding upgrades or replacements. Managing and maximizing the value of these assets is key to maintaining a profitable and sustainable farm operation.


Liabilities are debts that the farm owes to others. This includes loans, accounts payable, and other forms of debt. It is important to keep track of liabilities to ensure that they are paid in a timely manner and to prevent negative impacts on cash flow.

Keeping track of liabilities on a farm is another critical aspect of good farm accounting. Farmers should keep accurate records of all the loans they have taken, such as bank loans or credit cards, and the terms and conditions of each debt. Maintaining a list of accounts payable, such as bills and supplier invoices, is also an essential part of tracking liabilities. Farmers should ensure that they are making timely payments or at least paying them before any interest charges or late fees get incurred. By keeping track of these liabilities, the farm's overall debt can be managed effectively, and any outstanding debts can be paid promptly.


Expenses are the costs incurred by the farm to generate revenue. These include feed, fertilizer, seed, rent, and labor costs, among others. Properly tracking expenses is essential for budgeting and tax purposes.

One way to do this is by using a bookkeeping system that records all expenses, such as rented equipment, animal feed, fertilizers, and wages for farmhands. Farmers may use software to keep track of their expenses or manually record on a ledger.

All receipts and invoices should be recorded properly to ensure accurate expense tracking. It is also important to categorize expenses into different categories such as farm supplies, rent, and marketing expenses, to make it easier to analyze and track the farm's spending. By keeping accurate records of expenses, farmers can budget more effectively and avoid cash flow problems.

The Importance of Record Keeping

Record keeping and accounting are vital for the effective management of a farm. By maintaining accurate and detailed records, farmers can monitor and analyze their financial transactions, track expenses, and evaluate the profitability of their operations. This allows farmers to make informed decisions about purchasing inputs, selling products, and allocating resources.

Additionally, thorough record keeping ensures compliance with tax obligations and facilitates timely reporting to regulatory agencies. It also enables farmers to track inventory levels, manage cash flow, and plan for future investments.

Ultimately, record keeping and accounting provide the necessary information and insights to optimize farm performance, maximize profits, and ensure long-term sustainability.

In addition to using these tools and terms, farmers can also seek advice and assistance from qualified accounting professionals to ensure that they are managing their finances properly.

If you’re looking to take your record keeping and finances online, check out Farmbrite’s farm management software!


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