|99-063IH Project Manager: J. M. Reeves|
PROFITABILITY OF UNITED STATES COTTON GROWERS
Jeanne M. Reeves, Cotton Incorporated
The overall objective of this project was to help growers learn their own cost of production. This project started with fostering the development of software that would allow cotton producers a way to keep records for cotton. Cotton, as a crop, has not been included in record keeping packages for agriculture because of its complexity both to grow and record transactions. Specifically, one objective of this project was to evaluate currently available software for agricultural record keeping and cotton producers. One reason that many producers don't like to keep records is because of the time involved. For example, producers have to keep records for EPA concerning chemicals, and then for crop insurance records as well. In the past, these records were kept separately because the reporting to the two agencies contained slightly different information. From a record keeping standpoint, the matter was complicated because the information had to be entered twice, increasing the possibility of errors.
After software review, two software products were chosen for their applicability to agriculture and the programmers were willing to work with cotton producers to make their record keeping program "cotton friendly." Cotton Incorporated chose two companies (MapShots, Inc, and Red Wing Software, Inc.) that Cotton Incorporated felt were the best to handle the project, and who also had the desire to work with us to make a cotton component within their software available to the producers. One company does the financial accounting information, and the other handles production information such as planting dates, fertilizer applications, etc. One very important thing is that the softwares chosen are already designed for grains and can be used for virtually any agricultural crop. In the case of cotton producers, this was important because most cotton producers also raise other crops. Producers often don't just raise cotton, so the effort to keep records should not be complicated by having them keep cotton records in one package and grains (for example) in another.
All parts of the program are now in place, with further refinements made as needed. The production records, precision farming data (mapping, variable rate, etc.), and an electronic link to the gins is available to easily transfer information from gins to producers and update the program so producers do not have to enter classing information. Also, crop insurance reports, EPA reports, financial information, accounting information are all available and all components speak to other components in the software, making this software the only program that has all the aspects of farm record keeping. Cotton producers now have a software program that gives them management information at their fingertips. Contact information for the software is www.redwingsoftware.com and www.mapshots.com. A link to these can also be found at www.cottoninc.com. In 2007 and 2008, through a partnership with Meister Media's Cotton Grower Magazine, a product launch was held at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences. The seminars have been held during the production conference, and have consisted of a panel of growers, as well as software people, and Cotton Incorporated personnel. Cotton Grower Magazine has sent e-mail "blasts," written articles, and generally assisted in the effort to inform as many people as possible that the software is available. In 2009, a Web page on Meister Media aided in spreading the word about the software. In 2010, there was also an invited Beltwide session during the Production Conference. Also, efforts in 2012 continue to focus on how to further spread the word of this excellent software and ways to improve the software and its linkages with precision applications, ginning receipts, etc. Also, government programs are forcing (or will force) growers to keep better records in order to receive payments. This should also help in producer awareness. However, the growers were never big adopters of this, so the focus of the project has changed to budgets, which were of extreme use to growers as well as bank lenders and government agency representatives.
The other part of this research project is the development of cotton production budgets. Budgets are very useful for growers in that they may not necessarily reflect each producer's situation on his/her farm, but budgets are very useful for analyzing a variety of different options that are available as far as equipment, trips across the field, etc. It is also important that the budgets for each state and within each state budgets are comparable - meaning that they were all created with the same assumptions of fixed costs. (Fixed costs are where budgets tend to vary). Several budgets have been developed and will be made available on www.cottoninc.com soon.
|Project Year: 2012|
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