There's no getting around it: documentation and reporting are critical parts of running a farm. From FSA to lender documentation with stakeholders to crop insurance, it all has to happen on top of the endless amount of work on the farm. Needless to say, documentation can take a real toll on a farmer's time and mental health. But massive amounts of on-farm paperwork is seeing a digital shift: farm management software makes the reporting aspect of farming a whole lot simpler.
We believe that some of the most unpleasant documentation involves reporting to the government and reporting on crop insurance claims. Government compliance such reporting to the Farm Service Agency, is no one's idea of a good time, and neither is the process of collecting from an insurance company after a loss or challenge has occurred. The COVID-19 crisis has further complicated some of these already-painful processes, as many offices have changed their staffing or procedures.
There's hope. Today, hear from a few growers how their farm management software system takes the frustration out of government and insurance-related reporting.
Brueggeman Crop Services: All they want to know
Saving time on FSA reporting and crop insurance claims
Brueggeman Crop Services is a corn, soybean, and wheat operation in Miller, SD. They also own a crop insurance agency as part of their business.
Prior to Conservis, Brady Vanzee thinks back to the lengthy process of gathering the necessary data for FSA. He'd spend many hours aggregating all the grain tickets before putting them into an Excel spreadsheet. “Then I'd tally it up and hand it in. It took forever, because if it was a good year there were a lot of tickets, especially if the corn was good,” said Brady. Prior to Conservis, it took him an estimated full day to a day and a half if he sat down and diligently worked through the stack of papers. With the software, the dread of this time-consuming task is reduced significantly. “It's a matter of a couple minutes if you have everything inputted correctly,” said Brady.
As a crop insurance agency owner and Conservis customer, Reno Brueggeman sees the value. “This program is phenomenal when it comes to acreage reporting and production reporting, as far as crop insurance records go. It gives you an RMA yield and an actual yield,” said Reno. “As an example on corn, crop insurance uses 15% as dry corn and your local elevator uses 14.5%. Conservis will take your scale tickets and put the shrink and drying charges on there, but then goes a step further and gives you just 15% shrink on the gross bushels you sold."
“As a crop insurance agent, that’s all I want to know.”
BKR Farms: More in one claim than the previous decade combined
Making reporting to FSA and insurance error-free and streamlined
BKR Farms is a potatoes, wheat, barley, and oats operation in Grace, Idaho. Owner Ryan Christensen explains how Conservis has transformed this type of reporting for his operation.
“For years, I've kept good records as far as harvest yield information, but it's been on spreadsheets. It's been on a field-by-field basis because that's how we farm, we want our individual fields to perform well and to give us a return on the investment that we put in," he explained. "What makes it difficult is we take those fields and we report them to the Farm Service Agency and they have a different way of combining fields into units than our insurance company. That made it very confusing.”
Prior to Conservis, Ryan spent year after year trying to match their farm’s yield data up with the FSA and their insurance company. “As a result, we went several years never receiving an insurance claim even though we'd been hailed on, we'd experienced drought, we'd had fires, we'd had damage,” he said. “But because of moving the information over from my field, to FSA, to insurance, data was being lost and not recorded properly.”
The situation felt so dire that BKR Farms contemplated getting rid of crop insurance altogether. "We hadn’t received a claim that even covered our premiums in over 10 years,” said Ryan. “Then Conservis came on board and they had a place to assign fields to FSA units and to insurance units.”
"A check came two weeks post-harvest because of the recordkeeping that Conservis allows. With this claim, I received more in just this one year than I have in the last 10-15 years combined.”
He saw a payoff happen quickly. “Last fall, we had two hailstorms that wiped out a good portion of our farm. Without any work on my part, that data was captured from my grain cart into Conservis where I could pull up a report that showed me exactly which insured units had which yield," said Ryan. "I could send that immediately to my insurance agent who sent out the adjuster. My adjuster took that information and immediately processed my claim." There was no wondering, waiting, or confusion—a relief to Ryan and his operation.
Bates Next Generation Farms: Take frustration out of the process
Transforming FSA reporting from an inefficient annual task to simple and stress free
Bates Next Generation Farms in northern Illinois grows corn, soybeans, oats, and winter wheat. They appreciate the streamlining and organizing of information that make tasks like acreage reporting so much simpler.
Sue Bates, the operation’s Financial and HR Manager, said the annual FSA process, in particular, has been made much less painful. Before they adopted Conservis, Sue recalled what it was like when it was time for her husband and father-in-law to head into the FSA office. It took the pair hours to complete the reports and there was a general air of stress on the farm, realizing they were in for a frustrating day. Sue said the process seemed inefficient, and for a busy farmer, that’s irritating.
Now, the process is different. “We use Conservis to generate reports, particularly for the FSA office. I'm able to download the reports and send them via email to the representative we work with,” said Sue. “It allows her, in between farmers that are popping in and out, to take a look at ours. When we go over there then, it saves a lot of time for both of us. They love us for it!”
"It's a complicated process. [Conservis] took a lot of the frustration out of it.”
Her son Kyle also spoke to the ease of reporting with Conservis. He acknowledges that it takes time to enter data into the system, but the incorporation of that data entry into their farm’s workflow has so many benefits. “It produces a lot of really nice reports that streamline things,” said Kyle.
Cornerstone Family Farms: Understand the big picture
Saving time and effort on insurance claims (and getting the most out of the situation)
Cornerstone Family Farms grows corn and soybeans in Salem, Indiana. General Manager Aaron Lee appreciates many things about his farm management software and easy reporting definitely makes the list.
“It makes life so much simpler because at the push of a button, literally, you can pull information that used to take several hours to pull out,” he said. There’s great value in fast, accurate data when it comes to crop insurance claims. “In a challenging spring (2019) where we had replant and we changed crops, we were able to have data very quickly that we could give to our crop insurance agent," he said. Aaron had a visit from his crop insurance adjuster, and they could instantly access planting dates through Conservis, which he readily shared.
(With Conservis, your data is yours, and is only shared at your discretion.)
The time savings is significant. Before Conservis, it took Aaron one-two full days of time spent in the office digging through maps, getting correct dates, and completing input data. “Now, with the touch of a button, we can show them what we have in this or that acre,” Aaron said.
Because a big advantage of farm management software is having all your data in one place, the system is able to easily provide any information insurance may need. “It’s even beyond what they expect us to have," Aaron said. "We can go into more detail and drill down. One of the things that they needed [in 2019] as we worked through the claim was seed cost… and all the information of what your costs were." Aaron was able to provide all of that without hesitation.
"Conservis helps crop adjusters understand the big picture better, so they know how to work with us to get the best end that we can from a crop insurance perspective."
(Read the Cornerstone Family Farms case study.)
Working with insurance and visiting the FSA office are never at the top of any farmer’s list of enjoyable tasks. Easy reporting is just one way that farm management software gives power back to you: it saves you time on what you don’t love, so you can focus on what you do.
Conservis is the leading independent farm management software system. Let's chat and see if we’re a fit for your operation.