Jim Dufosee is one of those faces which ‘you know is familiar but you cannot quite place’, you have
probably seen his friendly farmer image smiling down at you in a Waitrose store advertising English lamb.
Back at the farm, where breeding and rearing organic livestock is part and parcel of everyday life, Jim and his wife Jacqui have recently taken the plunge into more unfamiliar territory and purchased Landmark’s KEY Cashbook.
The move is part of a plan to look forward and to help Jacqui and her father, a retired accountant, move the business accounts onto software that will take some of the ‘slog’ out of manual recording. Following a previous unsuccessful foray into computerised recording Jim was looking for well supported software. “I like plain English,” he says.
Jim Dufosee is a prolific cup winner for his Blackhill breeding stock of pedigree organic North Devon cattle and the well established Lleyn and Poll Dorset flocks of sheep for breeding and meat sales. Renowned for having the highest health status the quality of the surplus lambs from the Poll Dorset flock has been recognised by Waitrose Supermarkets, with the Blackhill flock being one of the original suppliers of Dorset Farmhouse Lamb, and has been used by Waitrose in magazine and T.V. advertising.
Farming has been in the Dufosee genes for five generations as tenants of the Longleat Estate. Jim started his own tenancy on 187 acres with Longleat in 1989 and several license and FBT deals later he now has a total of 1400 acres on and around Salisbury Plain. He says: “The MOD land is rough grazing with no water and no fencing, we provide our own, so I need to be out on the farm and not in the office more than is necessary.”
Jim has always been a beef, sheep and arable man and like most farmers he has had to cope with the ups and downs of rural business. He cites as an example the sudden reduction in lamb returns in 1990. He says: “We went from interest rates of 10% and an average lamb return of £40-45/head in 1989 to 17% interest rates and a return of £25/head in a year – the market had gone pear shaped.” Jim has nothing but praise for his father in law, Gordon Tubbs, who produced cashflows manually on demand, a far cry from today as these are now produced at the touch of a button in KEY Cashbook. During a rocky period which had seen the end of veal production and a fattening cull cow partnership a good relationship had been started with Chitty’s, the Guildford Abattoir, for both beef and lamb sales. “Chitty’s gave us more control on the prices than by selling into market”, comments Jim. He also found his market for out of season lamb to Waitrose and things were on the ‘up’! He had moved to lambing his Dorsets out of season and unusually wanted to compete with New Zealand lamb on the shelves between Christmas and Easter. “Waitrose decided to give a few of us a trial in the mid 90’s to supply Dorchester and Gillingham locally and 4 flagship London shops – the demand was bolstered by a press release in the ‘local rag’ which confused two Dufosee families in Dorset. The Waitrose management buyers were delighted with sales which resulted in an expansion of the contracts which now include a steady 40 suppliers.
Jacqui took the initial step of signing up for Landmark in the spring of ‘09 with the approval of her father and Old Mill Accountants. KEY Cashbook had been recommended and the Dufosees were looking for back up for their system. It was important that Jacqui’s father was completely involved having done such a fantastic job of preparing the accounts up to accountant level for twenty years. “He still enjoys producing figures and it has been a positive experience for a man who likes to get it right,” Jacqui explains.
Jim Dufosee has had success and failure in using software for his records, he is candid with his advice and says: “You need to trust a program and that means trusting what it can do for you. I trust my cattle program and we feel that way about KEY Cashbook. The Excel import/export function is excellent for constantly updating our cashflow, we export the data from KEY Cashbook into familiar spreadsheet format and make any adjustments, then import it back again into KEY Cashbook for a really useful, professional looking document. The support for the program needs to be good, Landmark support is helpful and the people are very understanding. I didn’t choose my career in farming to be in the office all day and so my advice is to look at the programs you like but most importantly check out the support – it does not work for me if the support is too technical.”
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