Farmers, like most people, want to protect their income as the deadline for filing taxes approaches. One of the most important ways for farmers to do this is to understand the best ways to decrease their tax liability.

Knowing that you need to decrease your tax liability and actually doing it are two drastically different things, however. In order to decrease your tax liability you must understand just what are considered allowable expenses and how to report those expenses.

In most cases, farmers are considered by the IRS to be self-employed. Therefore, they will report income on Form 1040 and then file the schedules that go along with that form. Self-employed farmers, or single-entity limited liability corporations, report income on Schedule F. By reporting income on Form 1040, farmers are able to use the cash method of accounting as opposed to the accrual method. The cash method means that expenses and income are claimed in real time.

The tax code for farmers is different than other businesses in that it incentivizes farmers for investing back into their farms. While most farmers are aware of how the tax code works, many times it remains in their best interest to work with an accountant who is familiar with the specific issues that surround farming operations. Such a tax professional also will be able to check and double check that farmers do not overpay in taxes.
One of the most surprising issues farmers face when filing taxes is proving that they are, in fact, operating a farm. There are various provisions in the federal tax code that define what is considered a qualified farm. To make matters even more complicated, state and local definitions of what exactly a farm is may vary, as well.

What follows are some general guidelines that ensure a farm is considered as such:

  • It shows a profit every three to five years.
  • It is operated in a business-like manner and the farmer who owns it is knowledgeable of farming practices.
  • Farmers list personal money and farm money separately.
  • Farm work and activities are well-documented.
  • Proof is provided that any losses are due to legitimate reasons.

These guidelines, while specific, are not meant to penalize farmers. Rather, they are in place to protect legitimate farmers. In fact, if anything, the tax code is written to benefit farmers and decrease their tax burden.

Social media is an outstanding tool for engaging prospects in the agricultural industry. Not only is it an affordable way to showcase your brand, it helps to build relationships with customers and prospects and drives new sales.

If you have been using social media to connect with farmers and ranchers but aren’t seeing the level of success you had hoped to, it’s time to reevaluate your social media strategy. Sometimes only a few tweaks here and there can have a tremendous impact.

The most important thing to remember, however, is that no social media strategy will work if you aren’t totally committed to its success. In other words, you can’t just go through the motions. This happens when a marketer is only active on social media because they feel like they have to do it, not because they believe it is important.

If you are looking for ways to jumpstart your social media strategy, read on for some tips to help you do just that.

Tip #1: Set a schedule. Decide on a schedule for posting and engaging with followers and stick to it. Sporadic posting and haphazard responses to followers guarantee your efforts will go nowhere.

Tip #2: Focus on your target audience. You can have thousands of followers but if a majority of these followers are not part of your target audience then it won’t do you much good. The content you post on social media needs to be specific to your audience-for example, farmers and ranchers.

Tip #3: Don’t spread yourself too thin. Do your research to find out where your target audience hangs out online and then choose a few of those platforms to be active on. If you try to be active on too many platforms you won’t be effective on any of them.

Tip #4: Be yourself. This is how you really gain traction on social media. The things you post and share on social media need to connect, educate and inspire but they also need to showcase the personality of your brand so people really feel like they know you.

Tip #5: Sell smartly. Approximately 80 percent of your social media posts should educate and inspire your target audience but there is nothing wrong with promoting your products or services, either. You are a business after all. Just be sure you only sell in about 20 percent of your posts so your followers don’t tune you out.

Social media is an outstanding marketing tool. If you have been disappointed with your results so far, never fear, a few small changes may be all you need to turn things around.

You might not know it to see all the snow still on the ground in some parts of the country, but spring is upon us. And as farmers ready themselves for long days, they first should make sure that their equipment and machinery is tuned up and ready to go.

Not only will keeping farm equipment well maintained help to extend its life, it also will make sure that everyone who uses that equipment remains safe. What follows is a list of what farmers need to check before they put their equipment to work.

  1. Lights and flashers. Flashers and turn signals need to be tested to make sure they are working correctly. Emblems need to be clean and any worn down ones replaced.
  2. Shields and guards. Check your PTO drive-line shields. Shields should turn freely and independently of the drive line. Further, to ensure maximum protection, the drive-line shields, tractor master shields and corresponding implement shields need to be in place.
  3. Hydraulic systems and mechanical locks. Check all hoses, fittings and seals and replace worn pieces.
  4. Tires. Check that all tires are inflated properly and that bearings are properly lubricated.
  5. Sprayer and planters. Hoses, valves, fittings and all other components must be free of leaks. Any tanks should have tight covers so spills are avoided.
  6. Hitch pins. The locking hitch pins on tractors and implements must be checked to guarantee that they are secure and in good working order.
  7. Steps and platforms. Always keep equipment platforms and steps clean so that no one slips and falls when entering, exiting or standing on equipment.

No matter what make or model of equipment you own, make sure you are familiar with the owner’s manual. This ensures that you will have all the information necessary for its particular service and maintenance requirements.

Getting your tractors and other equipment ready for spring doesn’t need to take a long time but it will pay off in the long run. After all, there is nothing worse than being slowed down by a breakdown after work has begun in the fields and around the farm.
Finally, it is always a good idea to have a strong relationship with your equipment dealer. That way if there is a major issue with your equipment you have someone to turn to for help instead of scrambling to find someone at the last minute.

One of the great things about farmers is that what you see is what you get. Most farmers have little interest in trying to project a certain image just to impress others.

This straightforward approach carries over into the type of people farmers want to do business with. Almost without exception, farmers are not taken in by smooth-talking salespeople trying to push a product or service they don’t want or need.

When creating content to connect, educate and inspire farmers, it is important that you don’t try to make your content too slick. Instead, give farmers what they really want-straightforward information that shows them how to solve a problem, learn something new or make their operation more efficient.

Another important aspect of content marketing in the Ag world is to remember that farmers expect you to show up on time, even online. Therefore, no matter what your content marketing strategy, it needs to reach farmers on a regular basis. Farmers will appreciate your efforts and will reward those efforts by paying attention to what you have to say and coming back for more.

While building a content marketing strategy that allows you to connect with farmers may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t need to be. What follows is a general outline of an effective content marketing strategy for your Ag-based business:

  1. Find out where the farmers you are trying to attract hangout online. You can publish all the content in the world but if your target audience of farmers can’t find that content it won’t matter.
  2. Decide what you are trying to achieve through your content marketing efforts. Do you want to be seen as a thought leader in the Ag industry? Do you want to provide support? Be sure and narrow your goals down to a few key objectives. If you try to do too much it will dilute your efforts.
  3. Decide how you will measure success. Shares? Web traffic?
  4. Stick to a schedule. Make sure you post your content regularly and on the same channels. Sticking to a schedule means farmers will always know where to find you.
  5. Manage your expectations. If you expect immediate and overwhelming results from your content marketing strategy you are likely to be disappointed and give up too soon. Content marketing takes time, but when done consistently and correctly, it is sure to pay off.