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Farm Business Plan: Financial Metrics

Your new farm’s business plan must include a detailed financial plan based on reasonable assumptions of your costs and revenues. To determine if the results you show in this plan will be attractive to investors, look at industry standard financial metrics to see how you measure up against the farming industry, or your sector of the industry, on average. These are some basic measures and ratios to study.

Value of Production

The value of production is equal to your farm’s cash receipts plus the changes in value of product inventory and accounts receivable, less your livestock purchases. This is a measure of the value of the commodities you have produced in the period.

Net Farm Income

The NFI or net farm income, represents the value of production less direct and capital costs in the time period. This is a dollar figure, and not a ratio relating the income to the investment made, so it cannot be used to compare the farm against other farms.

Gross Margin

This represents the NFI less depreciation. The gross margin shows how much money is available in the year to cover the unallocated fixed costs, and dividends to owners and unpaid operators.

Return on Farm Assets

This is a ratio that can be used to compare the farm with others. This is calculated as NFI plus interest expense less unpaid operator labor, all divided by the total assets of the farm.

Asset Turnover Ratio

This ratio is equal to the value or production over the total farm assets. Combined with the operating profit margin ration, this shows the efficiency of the farm in generating revenues.

Operating Profit Margin Ratio

This ratio is similar to Return on Farm Assets, but divides the same numerator (NFI plus interest expense less unpaid operator labor) by the value of production figure. This shows the percentage of each revenue dollar that becomes profit. If it is low, a higher turnover can compensate, and if it is high, a lower turnover ratio is required.

Want more tips? Here's a related article: How to Start a Farm

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