Farm Accounting Software - Frequently Asked Questions

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 I want to use a computer to keep my accounting records. How do I get started?
There are 2 routes that you can take when selecting an accounting program for your farm business - buying a program specifically designed for farm use or modifying a generic small business accounting program.

Currently the only Canadian farm accounting software available is the AgExpert Analyst program (formerly Settler Gold, now owned by Farm Credit Canada). Some advantages of this program are the ability to track inventories of farm commodities and built-in forms for filing income tax, GST returns, etc.

QuickBooks and Simply Accounting are the most popular small business accounting programs. These programs will require you to do a few adjustments so that they fit the needs of your farm business. You will need to set up your own chart of accounts (e.g. barley sales, canola sales, livestock purchases) and you will likely need to make adjusting entries as inventories are sold.

Can I use an accounting program from the United States?
Farm accounting packages designed in the US are not set up to handle GST. To overcome this you would need to maintain your GST records on paper or make up a spreadsheet to track it. This is a step backwards as you want to use the computer to keep all your accounting records together in one place.

Will my computer handle an accounting program?
You will want to check the program requirements to ensure that your computer has enough processing power and memory. If you are unsure about your computer’s capabilities ask a friend (or your kids) for help.

Where can I get training on computerized farm accounting?
There are a number of accounting software training courses offered by adult education organizations, school boards, agricultural societies, and colleges. You should check the Coming Events listings on Ropin’ The Web or contact your local educational organizations for information on upcoming courses near you. There are also several private consultants who can offer one-on-one assistance to get your program up and running. For the AgExpert Analyst program the company offers both training and 7 days per week telephone support. Your local accounting firm or computer dealer may also offer training on specific accounting programs.

What else do I need to know?
You should allow yourself some time to learn how to use the program - don’t buy it in late March and hope to have all of last year’s data entered in time for the April 30th income tax deadline. The best approach is to do your entries at least once a week all year. In general it will take just as much time to enter your bills and receipts into the computer as it currently does to write them into your account book. The time savings will come when you need to put together your information for the accountant or the banker - you just need to select the report and enter the print command.

Coming Events

Prepared by Dale Robinson, Ag-Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

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This information published to the web on January 23, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on September 15, 2016.