This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
You can get a free, fully functional trial version of FarmBooks before buying.
What We Recommend FarmBooks For
FarmBooks is ideal for farmers and growers managing a single farm. While it’s relatively less expensive than similar programs, it’s packed with features that help you manage both farm and nonfarm transactions. It also includes plenty of built-in reports to stay on top of your farm business. We rate FarmBooks as our best accounting software for farmers looking for affordable ag accounting software.
FarmBooks Is Especially Good For
- Farmers who mix farm and personal funds in the same account: FarmBooks allows you to manage both farm funds and personal funds using a single checking account.
- Small-scale farmers: FarmBooks is the least expensive among the farm-specific accounting software we reviewed, making it a great choice for small-scale farmers on a tight budget.
- Farmers living in rural areas with poor internet connectivity: As it’s locally installed software, FarmBooks doesn’t need an internet connection to run. Once the program is installed and set up, it’s ready to use.
- Unincorporated farmers: FarmBooks can print all the information you need for Form 1040, Schedule F, which you use to report your farming activity on your individual income tax return.
FarmBooks Is Not a Good Fit For
- Farmers managing multiple farms: You can only register a single farm in your FarmBooks subscription. If you need to set up another farm, you have to pay an additional fee. The Farmer’s Office is a good alternative as you can set up and manage multiple farms with no additional fee as long as they’re on the same computer.
- Farmers that need fixed asset accounting: FarmBooks can’t be used to manage and track agricultural fixed assets like land and farming vehicles. If you own and maintain fixed assets, you can consider CenterPoint Accounting for Agriculture. CenterPoint has a fixed asset manager that allows you to record the purchase of a fixed asset, set up depreciation, combine two fixed assets, and more.
- Farmers working with off-site bookkeepers: FarmBooks isn’t suitable for farmers with bookkeepers who work from their own office, as it’s difficult to share your books with them. In this case, a better option is a cloud-based application like QuickBooks Online. With QuickBooks Online, your accountant has live access to your books. We rated QuickBooks Online as our overall best small business accounting software.
- Farmers with a high volume of transactions: You cannot connect bank accounts to import and track your transactions automatically. Many programs, including QuickBooks Desktop Pro, let you link your bank account to generate automatic bank feeds. QuickBooks Desktop is one of our choices for best farm accounting software.
FarmBooks Pros and Cons
|Most affordable farm-specific accounting software we’ve reviewed||Requires an additional fee for additional farms|
|Includes farm-specific inventory management features||Difficult to share books with a bookkeeper or tax pro|
|Includes built-in payroll at no additional cost||Unique account, transaction, item, general, and detail (ATIGD) transaction classification structure may be difficult to master|
|Robust reporting||No fixed asset accounting|
FarmBooks vs Competitors (FSB Rating)
We compared FarmBooks to QuickBooks Online and CenterPoint Accounting for Agriculture, based on the scoring system discussed in our article on the best farm accounting software.
Based on our evaluation, FarmBooks’ biggest strength is pricing. FarmBooks, which comes with a one-time fee of $395, is the most affordable among the programs on our list. FarmBooks trails behind CenterPoint in terms of farm features because of the lack of fixed asset accounting. As a locally installed program that has robust farm management modules, it’s not as easy to use as the cloud-based QuickBooks Online.
FarmBooks costs $395 for a single farm installation or registration, plus an additional annual maintenance fee of $85 for program updates and support. If you have more than one farm, you should contact FarmBooks for special pricing.
FarmBooks includes features critical to farming and livestock as well as built-in financial reports that help you assess the financial status of your farm. You can track both farm and personal transactions. Some of its most essential features are discussed below.
Bank Account Management
You can set up and manage as many bank accounts as needed in FarmBooks. To set up a bank account, click on the Setup menu and select Bank Accounts. Click the Add button on the Bank Accounts window, enter your bank information, and click Add:
The FarmBooks Accounts Register is similar to the typical paper check register with color-coded transactions. Checks, deposits, and paychecks are green, blue, and burgundy, respectively. The accounts register tab gives you a quick list of all of your farm’s income and expenses:
The Details Register tab displays the same information as the Accounts Register Tab, but you can toggle between the payee and the detail. This means that you can filter down or search for a specific transaction by description, amount, external code, date, check number, and check memo, as well as account, transaction, item, and general (ATIG) code:
ATIGD Account Codes
Transactions in FarmBooks are classified using three types of codes: external codes, enterprise codes, and ATIGD (account, transaction, item, general, and detail) codes. The ATIGD is a five-digit code that provides a general classification of your farm’s earnings, expenditures, losses, wage, wage withholdings, and A/R. External codes may be used with ATIGD for more detailed transactions like family living, miscellaneous, or loans, while the optional enterprise codes can be used to track crop or livestock production or other nonfarm business. The coding system will take time to learn, but it’s intended to allow you to track all of your activity in meaningful ways without having to understand the journal entries that bookkeepers generally rely upon.
The A/P module in FarmBooks allows you to create a new vendor and manage your list of vendors. What we like about the A/P feature is that you can track your unpaid bills as well as track payments to 1099 contractors. However, FarmBooks has a few downsides, such as the inability to enter vendor credits to record refunds to the vendor and attach receipts to expenses.
Below is a sample vendor list in FarmBooks:
With FarmBooks, you can generate invoices, estimates, and billings, which can be sent directly to your customers. It can also post payments and deposits automatically and monitor customer balances. You can generate various invoice forms and statements and email them to your customers, and you can also track sales tax collections.
The biggest limitation of FarmBooks’ A/R feature is that there’s no option to create recurring invoices. If you have a customer who orders the same product or service on a regular basis, you may benefit from recurring invoices, which are offered by other programs such as QuickBooks Online and The Farmer’s Office.
When it’s your first time using the invoicing feature in FarmBooks, you need to specify a few invoice preferences before you can create invoices:
- Invoice options: This tab lets you enter your business remitter mailing details, as well as set up a few important options, such as whether you collect sales taxes or you apply finance charges to statements. You’ll also specify how you want your income to be tracked.
- Forms: This section allows you to personalize your forms by including your business logo and adding images and text messages. You can customize various forms, including invoices, estimates, and credit memos.
- Email forms: Make your email more personalized by adding customized email messages.
- Payment terms: Indicate due dates and any discount given within a certain period.
- Sales tax items: Set up important tax items like tax rate, description, and payment vendor.
- Sales tax groups: This feature is for users who need to pay tax amounts to several tax authorities (city, local, and state).
- Customers: Set up customer addresses, email contact information, and payment terms.
- Product and service items: Set up items for the products or services you sell to your customers, including unit prices, weight per unit, and quantity codes:
FarmBooks allows you to directly record and print checks while completing the payee/vendor, date, check number, and bank account information automatically. The checks are then registered in the farm’s accounts automatically to help monitor payments to vendors and other expenses.
To print a check in FarmBooks, click on File and select the Print Checks drop-down. Choose from the list of checks, click beside the check icon in the check item, and click the printer button:
Your FarmBooks account includes “Payroll Defaults,” which contains a master list of earnings, deductions, and benefits that you can assign to your employees. You can adjust this list based on your needs, and you can pull in these items quickly when setting up employee records. You’ll need to keep your tax tables up to date, but FarmBooks will help. You can download the tax table update for 2022 from the FarmBooks website:
FarmBooks helps you track all your inventory items for easy organization. It includes two units of measurement, real-time inventory for crops, and key dates and weight measures for livestock. With FarmBooks, you can also track births, weanings, and deaths:
FarmBooks generates an extensive list of reports for farm and non-farm transactions. These reports help determine how well your farm is doing, which can help you evaluate business plans or expansion. Some of the reports you can run in FarmBooks include the following:
- Income Statement: Shows total farm income and expenses, including net operating income:
- Transaction journals: All transactions for income, expense, wage withholdings, losses, loans, and A/Rs
- Financial analysis: Farm and nonfarm income and expenses
- Nonfarm income statement: Summary of nonfarm income, itemized expenses, family living expenses, and net nonfarm income
- Monthly cash flow report: Sources and uses of cash by income and expense
- Check register: Listing of all checks, deposits, and transfers
- Balance Sheet: Detailed information on assets and liabilities:
- Income statement/profit and loss (P&L) statement: Farm business receipts, expenses, and depreciation
- Net taxable income statement: Farm and nonfarm taxable income as well as net income
- Schedule F: Farm income and expenses that need to be reported on Schedule F of your individual income tax return
- Sources and uses statement: Sources and uses of cash to compute the net change in cash and ending bank balances.
- Credit analysis: Detailed information on loans and A/R, highlights the financial strengths and weaknesses of your farm
- Flow of funds: Budget versus actual values and the percentage of budget used
Customer Service and Ease of Use
FarmBooks uses a form-based interface, and there are tabs scattered along with the top menus for easy sub-navigation. New users can also use the helpful wizards to learn various tasks like data import and employee setup. FarmBooks may have a steep learning curve because you have to master the use of the coding structure to categorize and track your activities properly. However, once you understand how the codes work, it’ll be easy for you to track all of your accounts in FarmBooks.
On top of that, FarmBooks offers a comprehensive user guide as well as plenty of online resources, such as user manuals, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and live training sessions. You can also contact FarmBooks support through email or over the phone or submit a support ticket online.
Whether you’re a small-scale farm business owner managing a single farm or a self-employed rancher, FarmBooks is a low-cost solution for you. It gives you access to many great farm-specific features for less than $400. FarmBooks works best if you’re keeping your books on a single computer and don’t need remote access.
You may request a free, fully functional trial before purchasing the program.