25 Apr Thinking Of Buying A Farm?
Interacting with the earth and nature to produce your own food is a magical feeling. Working the land is a hard but rewarding endeavor. There is a big difference between growing a small vegetable garden to supplement your family’s groceries and becoming a successful farmer. If you are aching to work the land, there may be no turning back for you. Before buying the first plot of land you come across, sit down and come up with a plan.
- Be realistic about your budget and how you will support your new lifestyle as a farmer or rancher.
- Research the area and the land you are looking at buying. Does it work for the type of farming you wish to do?
- Don’t be in a rush.
- If you need to take out a loan, know what is required.
The majority of new farmers rely on off-farm income to help support themselves, at least in the beginning. Regardless, you need a reliable source of income. As you start looking for land, have a realistic budget in place and stick with it. Starting a farm is not an easy task. You don’t want the added burden of a loan payment that is too steep.
If you do plan to earn some income from working the land, research potential markets in the area. It is often more viable if you continue to work an off-farm job. You want an area where you can secure an off-farm means of income as well as a market for the products you produce on the farm. Find a piece of land with a reasonable commute to your job and your customer base. Take all these things into consideration before taking out any farm loans. Once you know your budget, research what lenders require of borrowers and make sure you are prepared. Consider borrowing from an institution that is part of the Farm Credit System.
If you plan to have a profitable farm or ranch, it is important to establish a marketing plan. You need to do a lot of research in this area. Deciding what to raise and how to sell it is no easy task. Read books that inform you about marketing options and farm business planning. As you start to consider different products, you need to know the acreage, soil quality and labor required to be successful. As you develop your plan, keep in mind your budget. Knowing your finances is important in any business and market planning. Do you want to raise livestock? You will need a veterinarian. Will you produce only organic goods? You need access to organic feed and seed and you need to go through the process of organic certification. These are just a few things to consider.
- CSA – Community-Supported Agriculture projects are a great way to help fund your farming endeavors, and they are gaining in popularity and support. Most CSAs allow individuals to buy shares in the produce grown on farms. Each week, members get a certain portion of what has been produced on the farm. This business structure allows you to sell your product and receive the money that it will cost to produce your product in advance, allowing you to plan out your season and purchase seeds and other supplies at the beginning of the season.
- Farmers’ Market – If there is an established farmers’ market nearby, you can sell you goods to the community through the market. It is a great way to interact with your customers and understand expectations and what foods people are interested in purchasing. It is also a great way to educate customers on what is reasonable to expect. Many people want to know where their food comes from, but don’t know what questions are appropriate or reasonable to ask.
Starting a new farm can be an exciting and overwhelming prospect. It is important to have a plan in place and realistic expectations. Most new farmers maintain an off-farm job until the farm is profitable enough to make it a full-time source of income. Farming is not the easiest job, but it is rewarding.