Cash Flow Can Make or Break Your Farm Business

Posted September 6, 2016 by Administrator

tablet farmerUnderstanding the cash flow of your business is one of the most important aspects of being a business owner. The way businesses track and record cash flow is called a cash flow statement. A cash flow statement can help a farmer identify trends in business performance that can benefit or harm the operation in the long run.

A cash flow statement is simply a list of the cash that flows into and out of your farm. It also concerns the timing of the flows. The cash flow statement compares the actual income and outflow compared to projected cash flow budgets. It generally projects the cash balance remaining at the end of the year but also the cash balance at the end of each month. Your cash flow statement will help you understand how the cash flows in and out in relation to what you projected and why there is a deficit or surplus.

The cash flow statement is used in conjunction with other financial statements, such as the balance sheet and income statement. These documents are designed to assess the progress of your farm business from year to year. The cash flow statement will help you keep your “finger on the pulse” of your operation.

It’s important to keep your cash flow statement up-to-date so that you can quickly identify if there is going to be a significant cash deficit or surplus. The cash flow statement will help you make well-informed management decisions such as when to purchase new equipment or when to open a new line of credit to cover cash deficits.

Some farmers find that they don’t have to keep a cash flow statement every month because there isn’t much change on a month-to-month basis. Some farmers find that their farms function on a seasonal basis and so they need to track their cash flow during the growing and harvesting seasons but don’t need to update it that frequently during the winter month. Once you get on a schedule with your cash flow statement you will be able to determine how often you need to update your cash flow statement.

One thing to keep in mind is that farmers can choose to keep a cash flow statement for the entire farm or focus on a specific aspect, or profit center, of the farm. For example, a dairy farm might have several enterprises in addition to milk production, such as hay sales, custom work or maple syrup production. Analyzing a specific profit center of your farm allows you to determine if that project costs more than it generates in revenue. It also can help you decide if it’s a good idea to take on another new project or not.

A cash flow statement can help you assess the financial health of your farm as well as your smaller enterprises. Taking the time to track, record and analyze your cash flow will help you understand what these performance measures mean for your business.

For more on agribusiness best practices and coverages, contact us.

USDA Announces Climate-Change Initiative to Support Farmers, Ranchers and Forest Land Owners

Posted August 25, 2016 by Administrator

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a new climate change initiative aimed at supporting the nation’s farmers, ranchers and forest land owners. The initiative, Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture & Forestry, is a comprehensive and detailed approach to issues related to climate change in the U.S. The goal of the initiative is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon storage and generate clean renewable energy. The USDA’s strategy is to implement best practices that are designed for working production systems that provide multiple economic and environmental benefits. The strategy will also help support resilience to extreme weather, which is a vital consideration for agribusiness.

The USDA expects to reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by over 120 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year by 2026. This equals about 2% of economy-wide net greenhouse emissions, the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road.

Climate change is the greatest challenge facing our future generations according to President Obama. The effects of climate change can no longer be ignored or denied. The planet’s warmest year on record was last year, and 14 of the 15 hottest years on record have happened since the year 2000. America’s ranchers and farmers have already been experiencing the devastating effects of impacts of climate change, such as severe flooding, extreme heat, drought, wildfires, disease and pests. These frightening climate-change related changes are driving the historic actions of the President to cut the carbon pollution that drives climate change and protect America from the impacts.

The 2014 Farm Bill gives the USDA the authority to provide incentives and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest land owners. The initiative will address soil health, improve nutrient management, conserve and enhance forest resources on private and public lands. In addition, the USDA will increase efforts to improve energy efficiency, develop renewable energy and use biomass both as a liquid fuel and to contribute to heating, cooling and electric needs.

The Climate-Change Initiative consists of the following 10 strategies:

  1. Soil Healthlivestock image
  2. Nitrogen Stewardship
  3. Livestock Partnerships
  4. Conservation of Sensitive Lands
  5. Grazing and Pasture Lands
  6. Private Forest Growth and Retention
  7. Stewardship of Federal Forests
  8. Promotion of Wood Products
  9. Urban Forests
  10. Energy Generation and Efficiency

For more information about the Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry Initiative click here.

To learn more about agribusiness news, coverages, and educational webinars, contact us.

Flooding suspends hours regs in Louisiana for truckers carrying emergency relief loads

Posted August 22, 2016 by Erin

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency for the state Aug. 12 in light of the historic flooding around Baton Rouge and across the southern part of the state. Per federal law, certain federal safety regulations have been temporarily suspended for some truck drivers through the duration of the declaration.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says such a declaration by a state “trigger[s] the temporary suspension of certain federal safety regulations, including hours of service, for motor carriers and drivers engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief effort.”

FMCSA says drivers responding to provide “direct assistance” to an emergency, as defined here, are exempt from applicable regulations in all states on their route to the emergency, even through states that may not be involved in the emergency or stated in the declaration of emergency. The agency adds the exemptions only apply to regulations in 49 CFR Parts 390-399 and do not “exempt drivers/carriers from the requirements relating to CDL, drug/alcohol, hazardous materials, size and weight or state/federal registration and tax requirements.”

Drivers and carriers should coordinate with state officials before providing assistance, according to FMCSA. The agency also says truckers should use good judgement when operating under the temporary exemptions.

The state of emergency is in effect until Sept. 10.

Read the full story from CCJ here.  

Article written by Matt Cole and originally published on ccjdigital.com

Annual Brake Inspection Blitz set for September

Posted August 22, 2016 by Erin

Inspectors will be keying in on brake safety again this September when the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Brake Safety Week takes place Sept. 11-17.

Across North America, law enforcement agencies will conduct inspections on commercial vehicles to look for out-of-adjustment brakes, and brake system and anti-lock braking system violations during the week.

Specifically, CVSA says inspectors will be looking for “loose or missing parts, air or hydraulic fluid leaks, worn linings, pads, drums or rotors, and other faulty brake system components.” Inspectors will also be checking ABS malfunction indicator lights to make sure they’re in working order, CVSA says. Defective or out-of-adjustment brakes will result in the vehicle being placed out-of-service.

Most inspections occurring during the week will be full Level I inspections, according to CVSA, and 10 jurisdictions will be using performance-based brake testing to measure braking efficiency.

“CMV brakes are designed to hold up under tough conditions, but they must be routinely inspected and maintained carefully and consistently so they operate and perform properly throughout the vehicle’s life,” CVSA says. “Improperly installed or poorly maintained brake systems can reduce braking efficiency and increase the stopping distance of trucks and buses, posing serious risks to driver and public safety.”

During 2015’s brake inspection spree, inspectors conducted 18,817 inspections and placed 2,321 of those trucks out-of-service – or 12.3 percent.

Brake Safety Week is part of CVSA’s Operation Airbrake program in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Read the full story from CCJ here.  

Article written by CCJ Staff and originally published on ccjdigital.com

Roadway Hazards Cause Thousands of Crashes Every Year

Posted August 17, 2016 by Administrator

Roadway hazards of all types cause motor vehicle accidents involving long-haul trucks every year. In a study released by the American Automobile Association the dangers of roadway debris was highlighted.

The study reviewed data from 2011 through 2014 and found that, during that 3 year span, road debris was responsible for causing 200,000 crashes. Road debris also accounted for 39,000 injuries and over 500 deaths during that time period.

Roadway debris includes substances, materials and objects that don’t belong on the road. Debris can come from passing vehicles, the environment and from natural disasters and weather. Wind, storms, tornadoes and hurricanes all can cause dangerous debris to be swept into the paths of vehicles on the road. Accidents have been caused by dust, dirt, sand, mud, asphalt, concrete, stones, pebbles, rocks, ice, snow, water, grease, engine oil, glass, nails, screws, auto parts, food, furniture, mattresses, garbage, luggage, animal corpses, construction supplies, leaves, twigs, seeds and more. Basically, anything that is foreign to the normal roadway surface can be a culprit.

Most crashes from road debris – about 66% of crashes – happen because an item fell off of a truck or vehicle. In one-third of the fatal accidents that can be attributed to road debris the driver swerved to avoid an object in the highway.

Sadly, most of the crashes that resulted in injury or death were avoidable. A lot of crashes are easily preventable if drivers take the necessary precautions to maintain their vehicles properly as well as secure their loads.”

All 50 states impose penalties on drivers found at fault for debris on the road. Other types of roadway hazards that can cause crashes include:

  • PotholesRoadWork
  • Sinkholes
  • Black ice
  • Water
  • Loose gravel or stones
  • Blind spots
  • Curves
  • Lack of guardrails
  • Animal carcases
  • Winding roads
  • Manhole covers that have been improperly placed

FMCSA Rulemaking Meetings Continue Amid Sleep Apnea and Trucker Debate

Posted August 10, 2016 by Administrator

The beautiful red US Truck with chrome

The debate about rulemaking and who pays in the screening and treatment for truck drivers with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) continues as the FMCSA holds late August meetings for recommendations. The public meetings will be held Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 22-23, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern at the FMCSA National Training Center in Arlington, Va.

Drivers are raising concerns about lost time and money after being referred for a sleep test by a medical examiner. The guidelines for referring a driver for a test are also in question regarding the neck circumference and body mass index (BMI) ratios that can trigger the testing.

Although the rulemaking process has not reached the stage of whether the FMCSA will issue a regulation or just guidance truckers are attempting to get out ahead of any final rulings regarding both testing criteria and cost burden. Many have suggested the agency pursue a pilot program to help determine what the practical costs and implications of such a rule would be.

What is clear at this point is that not all insurance providers cover screenings, equipment and everything that goes along with OSA. The American Transportation Research Institute has also released its findings of a study on sleep apnea conducted this year. ATRI found that costs to truckers can exceed $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses when referred for sleep apnea screening and much higher costs for treatment if it is not fully covered under their insurance. To learn more about FMCSA regulations and trucking news, visit our blog regularly or view our webinars.

Transportation Industry News: Have You Been Keeping Up?

Posted August 3, 2016 by Administrator

truck with the container goes on the country highway

From risks to regulatory changes, it’s been another eventful period in the transportation industry. Have you been keeping up? Failure to anticipate risk can cost your business time, money, and reputation. Failure to prepare for compliance with impending regulatory shifts can place unnecessary burdens on your training, resource allocation, HR, and other operational areas. To stay abreast of the latest news, we’ve compiled several of our most popular recent transportation news articles and resources:

Managing Agribusiness Risk: Tank Maintenance Practices

Posted July 26, 2016 by Administrator

Agribusiness InsuranceOperating in the agribusiness industry often requires you to store hazardous material on your property. Whether it’s petroleum, fertilizer or chemicals in large tanks, you run significant risks should a leak ever occur. Adhering to well-organized maintenance practices can dramatically reduce the incidence and extent of leakage, saving your business time and money while preserving your reputation.

Inspecting the Seams – Tanks often develop leaks along the seams. They may be small and difficult to see at first but then the seam will rupture and the resulting leak can cause severe damage to soil and ground water. Routine inspection of tank seams will help you see when it is time to reinforce or replace a tank.

Inspect the Valves – Another common area where leaks occur is at the valves. Valves are turned frequently, the wear and tear of the consistent use can cause threads to strip, and leaks may occur. Frequent inspection and lubrication of the valves will extend their usefulness and prevent the possibility of leaks. Lubricating the valves can help prevent them from seizing, another common cause of leaks. If a valve freezes and an employee has to break it free, then the damage to the valve may cause it to leak or burst.

Inspect the Pipe Lines – Pipelines and hoses are another possible trouble spot for leaks. They can become brittle in severe cold or they may become damaged when they are run over or struck. Sometimes lines and hoses develop pinhole leaks, which will leech into the soil for a long period before the damage is noticed. Frequent inspection of all pipelines and hoses will allow you to change out the damaged lines and reduce the chance of a leak developing.

When a tank ruptures, it can cause financial and environmental damage. However, not all leaks occur because of a rupture in the tank. Inspecting the seams, valves, lines and hoses will help you prevent some leaks before they occur and reduce the risk of contaminating the soil or local water supply. To learn more about agribusiness risk management, contact us.

DOT delays online carrier registration system implementation until January

Posted July 21, 2016 by Erin

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has delayed the final implementation of its Unified Registration System until Jan. 14, 2017.

Kelly Regal, FMCSA associate administrator of research and information technology, said the agency is updating its IT systems and migrating existing data to new servers, which is causing the delay from the previous implementation date of Sept. 30.

Since the first phase of the URS was implemented in December, new applicants for registration have been required to use the new streamlined online form. Existing carriers were supposed to begin using the system to do their biannual updates, name changes and transfers of authority on Sept. 30, but now won’t be able to use the system until the January 2017 implementation.

In addition to existing carriers beginning to use the system in January, new carrier applicants will be required to have proof of insurance in place on this date. Existing carriers will have a 90-day grace period until April 14, 2017, to file their proof of insurance.

Regal said in a conference call Wednesday that since URS launched for new applicants in December, FMCSA estimates cost savings of $1.6 million in processing time for the industry. She added that 62,000 new DOT numbers have been issued since the launch of the new system, and more than 340,000 dormant DOT numbers have been removed from the database.

 

Read the full story from CCJ here.  

Article written by Matt Cole and originally published on ccjdigital.com

Look to the Cloud to Plan Your Routes

Posted July 19, 2016 by Administrator

At Cline Wood we devote our blog to keeping transportation businesses up to date on the latest news, compliance rulings, and industry trends. In 2016, efficiency is the key to staying competitive. If you use mobile applications to help monitor driver performance and create efficient routes for your deliveries, you may be interested to know that many companies offer an even faster alternative. Cloud-based route planning is now a viable alternative for businesses that want improved reporting functions, feedback evaluations and continuous improvement.

Benefits of Cloud-Based Route Planning135426212

Cloud-based route planning offers you many benefits, including:

  • Efficiency
  • Economy of scale
  • Phenomenal customer service
  • Real time visibility
  • Multiple waves of delivery
  • Electronic proof of delivery
  • Competitive advantage

If you have large geographical delivery zones you will find that cloud-based route planning is even more efficient then planning routes with mobile applications. You will also be able track loads better, even when a route includes multiple transfers along the way.

If you can offer your customers improved logistic solutions, such as cloud-based route planning, you will have an advantage over your competitors while lowering the overall costs of each delivery.

And you don’t have to be a large commercial fleet to take advantage of cloud-based route planning software. Many offerings are now scalable, allowing companies to select the services that will best suit your needs.

Increased visibility in your route planning decreases company risk. Contact Cline Wood today to learn other ways you can reduce risk and your insurance rates.

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