- (Focus Area) Agriculture
- Author: Dan Macon
Please complete this short survey regarding irrigation water shutoffs due to the October Public Safety Power Shutoffs:
- Author: Dan Macon
Over the weekend, much of the Sierra foothills was impacted by another PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff (or PSPS, as the company calls it). This time, the advertised windstorm actually materialized - and while shutting off the electrical grid probably made sense from a wildfire prevention perspective, PG&E's actions had unforeseen consequences for many foothill farms and ranches.
For customers of the Placer County Water Agency, the power shutoff meant no American River water during an especially dry period. Citrus growers, especially, are entering a critical timeframe in the ripening of this year's mandarin crop. Many livestock producers rely on winter water during this time frame to provide drinking water for livestock - others pump groundwater for livestock (which is difficult without electricity). This evening, I'm filling a water tank in the back of my truck to haul water to our sheep in the morning.
But water (or the lack thereof) isn't the only challenge. Talking with Bob Bonk of Snow's Citrus Court this morning, I realized that growers who require cold storage where especially hard hit. Bob reported that he'd exceeded his fuel budget keeping generators running over the weekend. He'd also exceeded his capital purchase budget buying an additional generator. These added costs are difficult to anticipate, but necessary to staying in business. Bob also reported that many direct-market vegetable growers lost product without cold storage. Some growers who couldn't pump groundwater were not able to wash their produce.
Finally, I received a notice from my cellular provider late yesterday that I'd burned through most of my data for the month. Like many other producers, I imagine, I had turned to my cell phone to keep up with weather and fire conditions, information from PG&E, and other local news. All of these costs add up!
In the coming week, we will be working on a survey to document impacts to farmers and ranchers - we hope you'll take a few minutes while the memory of these recent outages is fresh to share your story. And over the winter months, we'll be working with the agricultural community to develop plans for dealing with these challenges in the future. Stay tuned!
Have you completed a cash flow analysis?
Cash flow is not profitability, it is the statement of incoming dollars and outgoing dollars at different times of the year, which results in a cash flow statement. Analyzing your cash flow will help determine if you are able to pay your employees throughout the year, seasonally, or if a budget needs to be made to ensure cash is available when needed.
Have you calculated the full cost of employees you want to hire?
The minimum hourly wage has increased but that still doesn't account for the myriad of costs attached to hiring an employee. Fulfilling legal requirements for worker's comp, insurance, and other costs can derail your budget; causing not only financial hardship for the farm but also your employees. It is always a good idea to consult with employment experts to find out what exactly it will cost to hire your prospective employee.
Do you understand the legal requirements for becoming an employer?
First, you will need an employer identification number for tax and legal purposes. Laws and requirements are constantly changing so consulting an expert is recommended.
Are you prepared, or have you identified a person who is responsible, for handling payroll, taxes, workers comp and other related paperwork and payments?
Handling payroll and other employee needs should be the responsibility of a single person in your operation. While employees can report their hours and submit forms, a trained individual needs to be responsible for making clerical decisions and correcting common mistakes to avoid headaches later on. If the owner is not able to perform these duties, someone else must. However, that person does not need to be an expert in all of these areas as long as they have qualified advisers in place to help them with tax, insurance, and regulatory decisions.
Get your labor questions answered by Bryan Little, from the Farm Employers Labor Service, who will be our guest speaker at the Farmer-to-Farmer breakfast on March 14th, 2019 at Happy Apple Kitchen. Sign-up now at https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=26870 . Put it on your calendar today!
Additional labor related resources:
- Labor Readiness Self-Assessment Tool - University of Vermont
Answer a list of 21 questions and a personalized report will be generated letting you know what areas to work on. http://www.uvm.edu/aglabor/dashboard/node/add/readiness-assessment
- FELS –Farm Employers Labor Service - a division of the California Farm Bureau Federation
“FELS strengthens the working relationship between farmers and field workers and helps farmers comply with labor and employment laws” https://www.fels.net/1/30-labor/605-vineyard-worker-fatality-highlights-importance-of-machinery-safety-training.html
- FELS Personnel & Labor Audit Checklist
Use this checklist to ensure you are up to date with requirements regarding overtime, minimum-wage, posters, etc. https://www.fels.net/1/images/Audit-Checklist-May-2018-with-FELS-letterhead2.pdf
- Understanding Cash Flow Analysis - Iowa State University
This page has links to cash flow budget sheets, cash flow decision maker tools, etc. https://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/wholefarm/html/c3-14.html
The other day as I noticed the bright shoots of green from daffodil bulbs popping up from under the leaves, I was reminded of the silly little sprinklers lining the landscaped space near my family home. My grandpa had put in the great little irrigation system, years ago, while my parents were building the house. Not long after my grandpa passed away unexpectedly. Nobody ever thought to ask about that irrigation system until a few years later when the house was completed and the landscaping finally reached that area. Nobody knew where the valve to those sprinklers were, nobody except my dear old grandfather, who was now gone.
Thankfully, that little irrigation system was easily replaced in a day or two. What if it had been the entire irrigated pasture? There are many integral bits of knowledge you have that are essential to the daily functioning of your operation. Does somebody else know what you know about your farm or ranch? Nobody likes to think about dying or debilitating sickness or injury, but wouldn't you rather think about it now to prevent your family from having to deal with a mangled mess of undocumented details?
Operational continuity is what we call the information and planning needed to help your business partners or family successfully operate your farm or ranch in your absence. Here is a short list of some topics to consider in operational continuity.
- What needs daily attention? – Animals, gauges, sales, bills, etc.
- What do you do/need throughout the year? – Do you have a calendar of everything you do and need each month? When you order it or buy it so it is available as needed? Examples would be, seed, or vaccinations, animal feed, or batteries, which are all essential when you need them.
- Whose contact information do you either have in your personal phone or in your head? – Veterinarian, suppliers, neighbors, people you lease land from, etc.
- What passwords or security is in place that someone needs to know how to access? - Could your family or business partner access funds or your important computer files if you weren't there?
If this blog post has you thinking about planning for continuity in your operation, then you are in luck.
If you're interested in learning more about planning for the continuity of your farm or ranch - and in sharing your experiences - join us for our next Farmer-to-Farmer breakfast at Happy Apple Kitchen, February 13, from 8 to 10:30AM. Please register for this event at https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=26562 This event is supported by grants from the USDA Risk Management Agency.
- Author: Hannah Meyer
A room full of farmers came out on a rainy Wednesday morning to enjoy breakfast together. Our guest speaker, Domenic Fino of Golden Pacific Crop Insurance Services, came all the way from Dinuba, California. He is a farmer, with a family legacy of farming and has been in the crop insurance business for 17 years.
Revenue - While farm acreage and the number of zeros after the dollar sign may be smaller for local farms, revenue earned is revenue that can be lost and can be insured. Fino explained a type of insurance called Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) that was designed specifically for small to medium producers with diversified operations and unique specialty crops. WFRP has been around for the last five years but has only been available in Placer and Nevada Counties in the last two years. WFRP is currently available in all counties in all 50 states.
Records - Fino brought a wealth of experience and information to local producers. He helped explain that WFRP works only if the producer is able to keep proper records and has been reporting revenue on their taxes. “Garbage in, garbage out” Fino said, speaking of how important diligence in record-keeping and setting up the policy makes processing easier when there are claims.
Reporting - Whereas most types of insurance require claims to be made right after a loss, WFRP is unique in that a producer may only complete a claim after filing taxes for the year.
Restrictions – At the farmer-to-farmer breakfast, producers also learned of a few crops that are excluded from WFRP, mushrooms and timber. However, there is a program that can provide assistance for those products called Non-Insured Assistance Program (NAP) which is accessed through the Farm Service Agency. Several mandarin growers learned that while you must have at least two crops for WFRP with the second making at least 17% of your revenue, if you only sell mandarins, there is another option.
Single Crop Insurance - Mandarin only crop insurance is already available in six Southern California counties. Any mandarin farmer may request that type of crop insurance in their county. Once enough farmers request a single crop insurance in a county, it can create a bank of information that will eventually make that type of insurance written specifically for that county.
For more information about WFRP, visit the USDA Risk Management Agency website. https://www.rma.usda.gov/Fact-Sheets/National-Fact-Sheets/Whole-Farm-Revenue-Protection-2018
Did you miss this event? If you are interested in learning more about crop or whole farm revenue protection insurance, UCCE can provide information. Call 530.889.7385 or e-mail us, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in attending a farmer-to-farmer breakfast? There is another one right around the corner. Wednesday, February 13, at Happy Apple Kitchen in Chicago Park. Look for a sign-up link coming soon.