Markham (1999, p. 62) can see the advantages of farmers using financial information, and he recognises that it is a view shared by some of the new farmers, ‘there is an increasing awareness by the new generation of farmers, who have often attended an agricultural college, that accounts prepared in management format and in a timely manner can be of considerable use’.
New farmers seem to see the advantage of management accounts, yet the explanation for any under-use goes beyond an issue of education. As explained by Rolls (2001, p. 34), education in effective farm management firstly has to highlight its value, ‘there is considerable evidence that education has less effect in satisfying demand for knowledge than in creating awareness of the value of knowledge and a desire to acquire more’.
Nevertheless, Markham (1999, p. 67) observes that farmers want just the basic tax services from the accountant and display ‘a reluctance to meet any further accountancy fees’. The reason for this is however, open to speculation. Is it an issue of useless information being provided by the accountant, a lack of interpretation abilities, or information available in other forms?
The annual accounts prepared for taxation purposes, are irrelevant for planning, control and decision-making. However, the structure of the tax-services report from the Irish Farmers’ Accountants Co-Operative Society (IFAC), which is given in Appendix B, does provide a detailed breakdown of historic cash flows, costs and revenues.