Eide Bailly and Conservis partner to connect farm data and business operations

Accounting

Eide Bailly, a Top 25 accounting firm, and Conservis, a Minneapolis-based company that provides farm management software, are joining forces to combine the benefits of farm data optimization and effective economic decisions.  

Scott Schmidt, vice president of business development and partnership for Conservis, and Steve Troyer, partner-in-charge of ag producers for Eide Bailly, have informally been talking about a partnership for over a year and a half. The two groups had several clients in common, and they chose each other for their expertise in assisting farmers. 

“We have very similar cultures, and we have very similar goals,” said Troyer. “We vetted Conservis over a six-month period before we determined that of the other farm management information systems out there, Conservis was the one that was best for our clients.”

Eide Bailly

The goal was to combine the strengths of the two organizations to bridge the gap between digital farm data and financial insights. Conservis is providing clients with real-time farm data across their operations, such as revenue by crop, while Eide Bailly aims to turn its FMIS system into monetary data, to help clients make analyses, interpret data and make the best financial decisions. 

“We truly believe that partnering with a firm like Eide Bailey helps create more value,” said Schmidt. “Between a technology platform like Conservis and the help of the CPA, we can help the grower. I think they inherently know that the true cost of production is not just what goes on the ground. The combination of data and advice from financial professionals like the CPAs helps elevate knowledge and make better decisions.”

However, producers don’t always tell their CPAs they have a farm management system, and Schmidt said it is then the duty of financial advisors to ask questions and share options with their clients. He says opportunities such as this partnership allow CPAs and their clients to move from an annual, transactional relationship to a year-round consultative collaboration, where they receive a thorough financial evaluation. 

“Farmers in the United States, to me, are the best producers of commodities in the world,” shared Troyer. “They understand the technology, and they understand what they need to do. They need other third parties, such as CPA firms, to help them take that data to create value and help make financial decisions.”

Troyer said clients are not only looking for someone who is going to assist with tax liability, but also someone who can help them with their operations. Things were different three generations ago, and who he calls “lifestyle farmers” were in the industry to follow in their family’s footsteps. They simply sold commodities when they needed to buy a product and didn’t necessarily require the services of accountants. 

However, most owners now treat farming as a business and are looking at ways to make a profit while spending the least amount of money. In response, Eide Bailly’s goal is to make data more profitable and to optimize the use of their dollars. Currently, around 15% of the firm’s clients are in the agricultural sector, and the group has been in operation for more than a hundred years.

“The accounting industry is wanting to diversify and generate new revenue streams and broaden their offerings towards the advisory and back-office services,” said Schmidt. “The opportunity, the data and information are now there. The need is there, and the farms are asking for it. So there’s this opportunity for CPA firms to step in and there’s this synergy between the evolution of accounting and the evolution of the farm.”

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