The Veggie Compass project originated from a partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Jim Munsch, an organic farmer in southwestern Wisconsin. After retiring from a career in cost accounting, Jim started an organic beef grazing operation in Coon Valley, WI. Following business management discussions with farmers, Jim began developing a cost analysis spreadsheet to help fresh market vegetable growers improve their farm profitability. In 2006, Jim and a team of researchers at UW-Madison joined forces and secured a USDA Risk Management Agency grant to focus resources on the development of a user friendly spreadsheet.
The researchers created a committee of diversified vegetable growers which met regularly to discuss limitations in farm business planning and assess the existing spreadsheet. At these meetings, they learned that many farmers were interested in an overall farm management tool. However, the growers felt that labor record keeping was a significant obstacle to accurate cost-of-production accounting. Growers recognized that crops vary enormously in the effort required to produce them and that a better way was needed to assign field costs appropriately. Some farms collected detailed labor records, but this information sat unused due to the lack of an easy and efficient method to compile and analyze the data. Thus, the research team concluded that facilitating the tracking of labor costs would be critical to the implementation and accuracy of the tool.
Within the Tools section the labor data forms and other management forms are available for download.