First, the book is written for farmers (and other small business owners/wannabees) who have not felt comfortable with indepth business analysis. He keeps the business analysis at a simple, attainable level, with recommended resources for those who want to dig deeper or do more complex planning. It is written as a farmer for farmers, and as such, it is easy for us to understand, appreciate, and apply. I have been fortunate to participate in workshops led by Wiswall so much of the material is not new to me, and the need for this information is not new, but I still felt having it together in print is a worthwhile purchase. Having his notes from the management workshops, being aware of basic business management needs, and still struggling with equipment systems, the production chapter was actually my favorite.
In response to the negative review, the chapter structure read fine to me. It is a read through and then go back and do exercises book. Yes it is written from a production manager's perspective, which is why the rest of us production managers can accept and apply what he is saying. It makes sense and appears to have value as presented from a production manager to production managers. The statement that his tractor tires are on 60" centers for 6 foot beds threw me at first also, until I read in the production chapter that he overlaps the wheel tracks half width, resulting in 6 foot spacing to provide a margin of error in subsequent field operations. Not a mistake after all - just needed clarification at that point. I also felt that the level of detail in Wiswall's business planning forms and exercises was perfect for smaller farmers who have not yet adopted formal written business management practices - he makes it attainable rather than overwhelming. He keeps the financial interpretation at the appropriate level. If anything, the enterprise budgets are still beyond my information collection skills. And the complaint about bond and stock returns - Come on, farmers are not so stupid that we are not aware of current returns or would pick up the phone and call a discount broker and place an order without more research. And he tells the reader to get more indepth advice before making investments. The point he is making is that having off-farm investments can be a good thing, rather than having all your assets in the farm.
I have not managed to write down what I take to market and bring home, or how we spend our time on the vegetables. My bottom line has always been acceptable, and I can do those enterprise budgets for my livestock because I have one (clean) place where I weigh and label and write down inventory, and time inputs are repetitive, but I have not been able to track individual crops yet. Wiswall's explanation of how he does it makes it look doable, so, next year??
If you do not have a clear goal for your business (more detailed than make money or provide for the family), some sort of business plan, do not know which products are making you the most money, or just want to fine tune your operation and know you have a handle on what's going on, the book is worthwhile.