Willie “Tony” Scott, 48, is a third generation farmer who doubles as a truck driver.
“Sometimes I may be in the truck eight hours, then come home and be on the tractor for eight hours,” said the Tattnall County resident.
Despite always being on the move, Scott manages to find time to operate his 300 acre farm near Collins where he and his father Roland, 75, grow cotton, soybeans, corn and various produce.
Six years ago, Scott realized he had to improve his productivity by increasing his income to improve the management of his farm. This required applying modern technology to his record keeping methods.
Scott, through a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan officer, learned he could receive help from Stefan Price, a Fort Valley State University county Extension agent who serves Bulloch, Burke, Emanuel, Screven and Tattnall counties.
“I saw where he could benefit by saving time running his operations considering he was managing a trucking business and operating a farm as well,” Price said. “We wanted to use the computer record system as a way of helping him with time and farm management. With a few evening sessions we had together, we were able to develop a tailor made record keeping system to help him with day-to-day operations,” said the FVSU Extension agent.
The process of adapting computer based record keeping did not take long for Scott. He said that within two months, with instruction from Price using Quicken software, he became very comfortable. He says by using this program, it allows him to monitor operational costs, calculate the number of acres needed to plant specific crops and helps him determine the amount of chemicals needed for controlling pests.
While modernizing his record keeping, Scott said he noticed a significant drop in costs due to having hard numbers to work with. In addition to his pockets getting some relief, Scott said it is easier to apply and qualify for loans from the FSA’s Direct Lending Program and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
The Tattnall County farmer and truck driver now finds life a whole lot easier when it comes to filling out loan paperwork. “Now once you put it on the computer, you add it up and when someone ever asks for it boom! You have it. They (loan officers) want to have accurate record keeping and they want you to show the year to year history of the crops you sell versus verbally telling them. Now, they have a way of physically seeing everything including all receipts,” Scott said.
Price said that Scott’s situation is a matter of gaining familiarity with a new system, a circumstance not unique among farmers in today’s modernized society. “I wouldn’t say adapting to modernization is a problem for farmers, it’s more about what they are comfortable with,” Price said. The FVSU Extension agent said that younger farmers, who have more experience using technology, tend to lean more towards using computers for their record keeping while older farmers tend to rely on manual methods.
Scott said he would recommend any farmer seriously seeking help in updating their record keeping process to contact Price. He said before referring them to the FVSU Extension agent, he would explain to them that record keeping is a time consuming process. “I wouldn’t want to see him go to somebody and waste his time when they are really not sure if this is really what they want to do,” Scott said.
Presently, farming and trucking work hand-in-hand for Scott, but he would rather settle down and quench his enthusiasm for farming.