Business Expenses That Are Costing You

If you never wrote a check for it, is it costing you? There are many things in business that we don’t ever write a check for, yet they cost us. If we don’t physically write a check or pay for them, we don’t always consider them as an expense to our operation.

Public Perception of Public Lands Permits

I recently saw people commenting on a post about buying American beef and supporting American farmers and ranchers. I was taken back by a few comments that I came across. A few folks wanted to know whether the ranchers producing the beef ran on public lands. If they did, they didn’t want to support them. I kind of had to pick my jaw up on that one. Cattlemen and women manage public lands in a way that helps ecosystems thrive. Also, grazing reduces the forest fuel load and people are mad about it? I have questions. My first thought was maybe they didn’t like that ranchers were able to utilize land at such a “cheap” rate. I have heard some noise about that in the past.

Is it costing you as much as you think it is?

The public only may know about the initial investment of the permit. Perhaps they’ve heard of the seemingly small rate that producers pay per head each month. What they don’t know or see is the hours of time fixing fence. They don’t see the miles put on pickups, nor the fuel that those pickups burn. The flat tires and the death loss from predators aren’t known to them. The many long days spent gathering because a bunch of feral horses wiped out the fence. They don’t know about the gates left open from recreators. The effort that goes into having a symbiotic relationship with the agencies incharge of managing the land for the government. The late nights getting cattle off of the highway after the state police calls aren’t publicized. When you start putting a price on all of those things, your permit might be more costly than you thought.

Knowing Your Business’s Numbers

Think back to a time that you gave up bidding on a bull. You just can’t swallow paying that much for a bull these days. This is a tougher one because EPD’s are just what is “expected.” Between the difference in weaning weight pounds and the average daily gain, he’s going to make you more money than he cost you. Depending how you market your calves, the carcass numbers might be enough to make it worth it to your ranch. In the fall, you don’t write a check for the money that you left on the table, but it was still there. What is a bull worth these days anyway given what your calves are bringing? The bottom line is there is immense value in knowing your numbers. One of my favorite agribusiness accountants to follow is Mary T Faber from out in Illinois speaks a lot about this.

Analyze Your Business From 30,000 Feet

For those of you who have an employee or an entire crew, what does turnover look like? I have seen outfits that keep the same help for extremely long periods of time. There are others who might get a season with them if they are lucky. Sometimes buckaroos like to keep the road hot and that’s not on you. The resources you invest in getting them acquainted with your operation certainly cost you. Maybe you can rethink the way you search for help. Hiring the wrong fit can end up costing your business too. Perhaps you need to up your standards on who you hire. Maybe you don’t need to even hire someone, job descriptions just need to be revisited or communicated. Sometimes we love what we do so much, we forget to treat our business like a business. 

With the cattle market being what it currently is, I can see this being a great opportunity for producers. A chance to look at their business from 30,000 feet and look at what might be costing their operation. If you try something new and it doesn’t end up working out, the market will help soften the blow. You can buy a better bull, or you can put more cattle on irrigated pasture. You can reassess the help that you have.

I hope this serves as a gentle reminder that everything has a price tag, even if we aren’t physically paying for it. After some reflection we decided to mix things up this summer. We will see how it shakes out. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop.

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