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Business Obstacles Successful Farmers Overcome

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

By John Lavelle

In my prior three articles, we discussed estate tax implications of large land ownership, business succession issues in farming operations, and the tax benefits of conservation easements.  Now let’s discuss something completely different: the day-to-day issues all business owners must cope with, but that are particularly challenging for farmers.

One of the fastest ways to go out of business is to ignore the basic rules of compliance with all the various governmental entities.  This article is not going to cover special issues that are peculiar to farms: environmental and land use, grant compliance, crop programs and insurance are often covered in detail by your local farm bureau, cooperative extension and county.  Rather, we are going to review some compliance obligations that can impact any business and even cause business failures.

My day job as a lawyer and my other job as “CFO” of my wife’s farm business have exclusively been in New York jurisdictions.  While rules and regulations can vary even within a state, it is especially true from state to state.  For non-New York farmers, these pointers need to be adjusted for your state and local experience.

Payroll

If you hire employees outside of the family (there are exemptions from some payroll obligations for your spouse and minor children), payroll compliance has to be a top priority.  A very strong recommendation is to use a payroll service.  Do not be tempted to save money processing payroll through your own accounting software….

Read the rest of the article here.

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