The Best Kept Secrets About Getting Started With Farming

 Image/Flickr

Image/Flickr

If you feel like you want a quieter life and would like to leave the city behind, starting a farm might be a good idea. Unfortunately, the majority of “townies” fail to make profits out of their farm, due to the lack of planning and competency. You should think twice about moving to the country and adopting a new lifestyle. Waking up early in the morning and doing physical work, doing everything yourself, even the accounts can be more exhausting than working 9-5. To help you avoid some of the most common mistakes, we have created a list of tips below.

You Can Start Small

You can look for a small land for sale, and expand as you start making more money. You cannot expect to become an expert farmer overnight, so take small steps. Get your experience managing a small farm, and then expand as you become more confident and start becoming profitable. Look out for land that has free area surrounding it that can be turned into more farming area, or one that is close to other farms you can later buy. 

You might be dreaming about having a big farm with fields of crops, but - unless you have millions of dollars - you cannot have it just yet. Instead, start small and get a farm with a small field and invest into animals. Make sure that you create a sustainable model on a small scale. Many people who start farming later in life take the systematic approach, and measure the profitability of each farming method individually on a small scale. For example, you might be undecided whether you should produce beef or pork. You can start two small-scale operations and measure the results in a few years’ time. Check the cost and investment needed, as well as the return on the investment. Eliminate the methods that are the most profitable, and expand. This blueprint method has been applied by several people who managed to make farming work for them.

You Can Get Investors

You don’t have to take on a huge loan and get yourself into debt to get a farm. If you have a unique idea and a detailed business plan, you can get investment from local companies, or even food processing companies. They can fund your startup, buy your equipment, and pay for your training. This way, you don’t have to risk your life savings, and can get the support you need from professionals.

Starting a farm can cost a lot of money. You need to get the land, and the essential farming equipment. You might also want to study agriculture to make the most out of your land. You might feel overwhelmed without help. Make sure that you seek out investors and come up with an appealing plan, so they are happy to jump on board. You will, however, need to provide some investors with a security, however, they don’t seem to be as strict as banks.

You Can Build a Side Business

If you worry about the profitability of your farming venture, you can have a Plan B. Indeed, most farms take long years to provide owners with a return on investment. If you don’t have money coming in, you can end up losing everything you worked for, and struggling for many years. Instead of relying solely on farming, set up a side business.

Some ideas of farming business include renting out a small shop for a butcher, selling fresh vegetables and eggs to the public, making your own cheese and wine, and hosting events. If you are lucky enough to buy a farm that has a lovely outside space and a landscaped garden, you can let it out for outdoor weddings and make some money.

Pumpkins are some of the easiest crops to grow, and you can organize a pumpkin festival on your farm leading up to Halloween. Welcome kids, and make some pumpkin-flavored treats. Charge only a few dollars on admission, and spread the word about your farm that way. An all-year round idea can be building a corn maze or even a maze of haystacks for kids, or having a small petting zoo. Depending on your location and amenities, you can brainstorm ideas of making money of your farm in more than one way.

 

State Funding and Education for Farmers

You might not need to invest all your savings and take on a huge loan to start a farm, after all. You can apply for different state or government funding schemes that offer education, money, and support. The USDA, for example, has plenty of great long term farming loans and rural development funding options. If you check out your options and seek advice, you can get a long term funding agreement set up for your farm.

If you are a new farmer, you can sign up for training and membership with the USDA, and get free advice. You can also connect with experienced farmers and learn new methods, ask questions, and get some great ideas. You have a better chance of securing funding if you commit to gaining a formal qualification in agriculture, or have a detailed business plan, involving organic or traditional farming methods.

You Must Treat Farming as a Business

Right now, you might be focused on the relaxed lifestyle of the countryside, but what you really need is a detailed business plan. Your bank manager will not be interested in your dreams; they want to see figures and your plan to achieve a high return on investment. Treat farming just like any other business. Set up a target for profits, budget for repairs, equipment, and labor, and market your produce through the appropriate channels. Look out for new ideas to constantly improve your farm’s performance.

You Might Miss the Buzz of the City

You might be thinking that you will never go back to the city, but circumstances might change. Make sure that you don’t put all your investments into your farms, and keep your options open. You might need to look after an older relative, or buy a flat for the kids who are off to university. No matter what happens, you must be ready.

Living on a farm can be lonely and too quiet for some. You might miss walking down the main street and walking in the bar, going to the theatre, or simply having meals with friends. If you become homesick, you don’t want to stay on the farm just because all your money is tied up in equipment and crops. Think twice, and think ahead.

The best way of avoiding disappointment when starting up a farm is to live on a farm for a few weeks or months before you make your big move. You can get in touch with a friend who manages land, or someone who is looking for a live-in help. This way you can find out more about the lifestyle and challenges, and make an informed decision.

If you have been dreaming about starting your own farm, you  need to think it through from the business perspective. Ask yourself how you can make the farm profitable as soon as possible, and how much of your own money you need to invest. Calculate the cost of land, equipment, and labor, and work out how much you can potentially produce and at what price you can sell your harvest for. Speak to experts and seek professional advice.