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The importance of developing a Resource Inventory cannot be minimized. Completing the inventory gives an overview of the different aspects of the farm providing an essential perspective in evolving a long term plan.

An example of ill-planning took place some years ago when I moved from Canada to North Carolina. One of the first things we did was plant a field in wheat. However, as harvest time approached, a combine couldn't be found and as a result the crop was lost. A little checking and planning beforehand would have saved the day. Editor


Resource Inventory

The resource inventory helps to identify soil erosion in fields and pastures, manure that is stored (dumped) too close to water sources, financial problems such as too much debt or large variable costs, and needed labor and human resources. Only after a resource inventory is completed can the current health and future direction of the operation be determined. The resource inventory can be divided into these five areas:

1. Physical/Natural Resources

These include:

  • A map detailing the land topography; pasture; vegetative species; weeds and woody species and their sites; carrying capacities of each field; the location of structures including barns, working pens, and fences; and all water resources that are available including ponds, streams, automatic waterers, and rural water lines (a NRCS soil map and a hand-drawn map are helpful).

  • Soil surveys including land use and fertility (soil test) recommendations by field or area (a NRCS soil map and university Extension soil tests are helpful).

  • An accurate description of wildlife and domestic species and populations (including loose neighborhood dogs and coyotes) to determine potential predators or problems that can result from them.

  • A historical record of rainfall and weather patterns for the farm or local area.

  • The fair market value of the land (farm) if it were sold.

2. Human/Personnel Resources

These include:

  • All persons who work on the farm including the farmer, family, paid full- or part-time employees, custom hired operators (i.e., a hired trucking company or fencing company), friends and neighbors;

A. The names, assigned duties of each person, their salaries/wages, their skills and talents, their work schedules, emergency information for employees, and sources of help to cover a person who is absent or cannot perform his/her duties; and

B. I-9 (U.S. citizen or not) and other data that is needed for filing income taxes, insurance benefits, Social Security or tax identification number, etc.


3. Equipment Resources

These include:

  • The size, age, condition, and model or serial numbers of all equipment that is used by the farm (permanent identification on the equipment is helpful);

A. Note whether the equipment is owned, rented, or borrowed; and

B. Estimate the fair market value of each piece of equipment and its depreciated value (original cost minus accumulated depreciation).


4. Animal (and Forage) Resources

These include:

  • The inventory and value of all livestock including goats, guard animals, and others. The value of breeding stock can be determined by (1) original purchase price minus accumulated depreciation or (2) the fair market value. These records should include each animal’s identification (ear tag, ear notch, implant, or NAIP), breed records and registrations, breed or type, performance and production of dam and sire records;
    A. The total number of fenced or available acres along with a history of yields that are used by each enterprise (i.e., goats and estimated forage production in the field).


5. Financial Resources

These include:

  • Cash and savings accounts that are used by the farm (it is best to separate farm and family living bank accounts, but this is often not practical for small producers);

A. Current debts: include the lender, the amount owed, the interest rate, and the time remaining on the loan;

B. Operating loans that are used year after year along with the expected amount to be borrowed, terms, and interest rates (these are loans that you expect to have each year for you to operate the farm but that you do not have now); and

C. Other credit that may be available (i.e., a tab at the feed store).


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