There are many things to think about on-farm right now, but it's crucial to keep track of when and where you're spending money, and how that affects your cash position.

By doing so, you'll be more able to achieve your goals, take advantage of opportunities, rectify unforeseen issues, and feel less stressed.

Profitable farmers tell us they monitor and manage their finances by:

• Forward planning, which allows them to stay one step ahead
• Understanding how on-farm decisions affect their financial performance
&bull: Setting up clear business processes, which means they run as a well-oiled machine and have more time on-farm
• Communicating regularly with their on-farm team and advisers
• Making sure they're on track by reviewing their performance against their plan.


Don't be intimidated by this list, gaining control of your finances is actually pretty simple. It's all about managing, monitoring and communicating. We've broken it down into five aspects to focus on:

1. Update your cashbook: Set yourself up with a process that is easy and intuitive. If it seems too hard, you'll be less likely to do it. Ask your chartered accountant which system might work best for you, or ask other farmers what they do. If you need to get in touch with a farmer for help, visit

2. Keep records and financial reporting up to date: Does your office set-up and filing system help or hinder you keeping your cashbook up to date? Could you change the way you manage incoming bills and invoices to make this easier?

3. Monitor your actual vs forecast: Monitor your actual income and expenditure against forecast, and communicate this to your business advisers. Keeping your cashflow budget up to date will help you see what your overdraft needs will be, how they might change and, most importantly, it will give you the information you need when talking to your bank.

4. Refresh your budget: Update your budget in line with dairy company milk price announcements so you can assess the impact of changes, and make plans to manage any negative impacts or capture the benefit of any upside. Your dairy company website may provide a payment predictor you can use.

5. Good conversations: Talk to your farm team and advisers about your budget, where you're at, how things are tracking and any changes or decisions that need to be made. How frequently you do this will depend on your circumstances but it's wise to do it monthly.

- Carolyn Bushell is a business management specialist for DairyNZ.