QuickBooks and your business: Farm, ranch, or other agriculture business

[Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles we’ll be publishing about using QuickBooks for Mac for specific types of businesses. Stay tuned for more articles in this series. – Shelly King, Managing Editor]

When you spend your days working outdoors, you probably don’t want to spend every evening glued to your computer, fighting with your accounts. Here’s the trick: Make the best use of QuickBooks for Mac, so you can get your bills paid, get your customers to pay you, and track how your ag enterprises are doing financially—all slick and quick so you can get back to work.

Sales receipts or invoices? The eternal QuickBooks question

If you’re selling stuff and getting paid on the spot, create sales receipts. If you’re selling services like trucking or animal boarding, create invoices to send to your customers.

Now what about selling your produce at farmer’s markets? You can’t create a sales receipt for everyone! That’s nuts! You can create just a couple of sales receipt for the whole day—one each for the types of payments you’ve accepted (cash, credit cards).
Here’s how a fictitious farm called All Organics tracks their sales at the Mountain View Farmer’s Market:

  1. Dave’s Organics created a Customer for each day of each farmer’s market you sell at. For example, Sunday Mountain View Farmer’s Market. (All Organics also sells at the Campbell farmer’s market on Sundays—that’s why they use both the market name and the day in the Customer name.)
  2. In her Items List, Dave creates Other Charge Items for the fees and expenses he incurs when he sells at the farmer’s market. (He uses Expense accounts for these items.) These include gas money, booth rental, and grande lattes for their sellers.
  3. Still in the Items List, All Organics also creates an Item called Total FM Sales.
  4. After the market day, All Organics creates a Sales Receipt for each type of payment they take—cash, credit cards. It includes:
    • the Total Sales item with the amount they took in listed as the rate
    • Other Charges items for expenses incurred
  5. Finally, Dave’s Organics records the deposit for each Sales Receipt.

Hooray! Dave’s books are up-to-date. And to see how much money Dave’s Organics takes in at the Mountain View farmer’s market (and compare that to how much they take down in Campbell on the same day), he can run Sales by Customer reports.

This way, Dave can quickly see how much money he’s taken in at any given farmer’s market.

Getting deep into your Item list

The way you track the things you buy to keep your business running and the crops, animals, and services you sell is to add them to your Item list. Then you can use subitems to get specific about types of crops. Say you’re growing several different kinds of potato—you can create an Item called Potatoes, then create subitems for Yukon Gold, Peruvian Purple, and Russet.

Be sure to add your equipment and vehicles to QuickBooks so you can track their maintenance costs and depreciation!

Tip: We don’t usually recommend that ag businesses use the inventory feature of QuickBooks for Mac. Instead, enter the crops and animals you sell as Non-Inventory Parts.

Do it your own way with custom fields

Do you need to keep specific notes on the crops you grow, the stock you keep, or the animals you board and train?  A great way to do this is to create custom fields, then add them to your Customers, Vendors, Employees. A different set of custom fields can go with your Items.

The South Paw Acres dog boarding facility, a real QBMac user, uses custom fields to keep notes on their canine customers—things like Breed, Diet, Exercise, and Special Needs.

Use Classes to track your enterprises

Lots of ag businesses actually run a variety of enterprises. One QuickBooks for Mac user, the Batie Cattle Company has four enterprises: corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and trucking. (Nope, no cattle!) The Baties uses the Classes feature of QuickBooks for Mac to track each of these enterprises.

When you use Classes to manage your enterprises in QuickBooks, you can generate reports that track your expenses and income for each of those enterprises separately, which gives you a window into how well each of those businesses is doing.

Perennial Crops and Breeding Stock as Fixed Assets

Got a vineyard, an orchard, or a horse breeding program? A great way to track these kinds of long-term items in QuickBooks for Mac is to use Fixed Asset Accounts.

Why do this? So you can track how much money you spend on growing your grapes or apples or horses, then use QuickBooks to determine how much money you make once your vineyard is producing great grapes or you’re selling your yearlings.

How do you used Fixed Assets Accounts to track your perennials or your stock? Say you’ve just planted a new vineyard with Chardonnay grapes. First, go to Chart of Accounts. Create a Fixed Asset account called Chardonnay Vineyard. Then create Fixed Asset accounts, choose Subaccount, and pick Chardonnay Vineyard as the parent account. Use these accounts to track the things you need to get the grapes growing—fertilizers, herbicides or sheep rentals, trellis materials, and so forth.

So that’s it!

I hope this sheds a little light on your agriculture business. Thanks so much to all the businesses I talked to in writing this article. You guys are so awesome!






About Liz Hamill Scott

Liz Hamill Scott is the newest member of the QuickBooks for Mac team, but she's no stranger to QuickBooks. For the last few years, Liz has used QuickBooks for Mac to track the many expenses she incurs as a travel, food, and lifestyle writer. The author of The Imperfect Traveler's Guide to Traveling With Pain, five Moon Handbook travel guides to California and numerous magazine, newspaper, and blog articles, Liz loves advocating for travelers with hidden disabilities and takes the business of being a sole proprietor seriously. You can find Liz on the web at travelswithpain.com. See all of Liz's articles

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