Friday, November 21, 2014

30 Days: Thoughts of a Future Farmer Day 21

Becoming a Farmer - An Uphill Climb

As many of you may have guessed, becoming a farmer isn't easy.  It's actually not easy at all. 

I, for one, have a special sort of challenge ahead of me.  I don't come from a farm, I don't really have assets to back a loan, and I don't have land.

Yes.  I'm almost certifiably crazy - ask my fiancee or my mother.

What's it take to become a farmer in this world?  I put together a short list..

1. A plan - ex. you want to raise hogs, dairy steers, poultry, crops, vegetables, etc.
2. A mentor - someone who knows the industry in which you intend to enter, and can help guide some of your decisions.
3. A good banker - some bankers understand agriculture and others don't.  You need to make sure that you get one that's got a background in agriculture lending.  Preferably, you will find one that that understands your wing of agriculture.
4. Land - whether you want to put up a turkey building or start a vegetable farm, you need a place to put it.  Careful planning needs to be put into place before buying ground.  Ex. If you buy ground right next to a populated area, and plan to raise turkeys, the zoning commission will likely cause you problems, and you may have to reevaluate the use of that ground.
5. Equipment - When starting, you need to realize that that new John Deere R series sure is beautiful, but you a. don't have a valid justification for the equipment, and b. (likely) don't have the capital.  The trick is learning how to do proper upkeep and reasonable repair work on slightly older equipment.  This CAN (if you know what you're doing) save you gobs of money in the long term.
6. Support staff - I don't mean your own computer programmer, but I mean a nutritionist, agronomist, veterinarian, depending on your plan's needs.
7. A market - Common mistakes in start-up businesses of any sort include people who have good intentions and something they want to do.  They often fail to consider what type of demand there will be for that commodity after it' produced and ready for sale.  If you want to raise non-GMO corn, you better make sure you have a sale location near you that pays the premium for non-GMO corn.  If not, you end up selling it as regular corn, and miss the gain you planned on making.
8. A supportive significant other (if you have one) - "When you're planning on spending your life with a person, you need to ensure that you share similar goals.  It's better for your relationship long term if you support each others' career choices, rather than just tolerating them."  Any independent business owner needs to consider this.
9. Love what you do.  If you don't love what you do, is it really worth your life dedication?

I feel like there is more I need to say, but I also think this is a good start.  What advice do you have for someone who may be entering the world of farming, or starting a business of any sort?

Again, I've now missed even more days, but I'll try to keep up through the end of the month!!

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Picture sourced from Pinterest - I don't have proper citation.

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