How To Become a Farmer in 8 Steps

The average age of the farmer is now around 60 years old and trending older every year. Why?

As easy as it would be to blame younger generations and just say “they’re not interested” or “they don’t want to work”, in my experience this is not the case at all.

There are actually a decent amount of young people who are driven, ambitious, and interested in production agriculture. However, perceptions of high barriers to entry and a lack of practical knowledge keep them from pursuing farming and ranching as a career.

Of course there’s also the long hours, low pay, weather and price risk, and hard work. But despite these challenges there are still a lot of people that are simply drawn to the land and love agriculture.

Have you ever considered farming or ranching? What has kept you from making this a career choice?

As I have posed this question, the answers tend to be centered around not having the money, not having the land, not having grown up on a farm or ranch, or not knowing the first thing about farming or ranching.

Below I have listed 5 ways that you can overcome some of these barriers. I hope that once you read through these you’ll start to see a more defined path to a career in production agriculture.

Here are eight steps to take if you are interested in becoming a farmer:
  1. Research different farming careers. …
  2. Talk to people who work in farming industries. …
  3. Apply to an entry-level position. …
  4. Educate yourself about farming. …
  5. Research USDA Beginning Farmers loans and microloans. …
  6. Get organized. …
  7. Purchase your equipment.

Can you get into farming if you weren’t born into it?

What is the average salary for a farmer?

The average salary for a farmer can vary depending on many factors, including where you live, what products you produce and the size of your farm. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link below.

What is a farmer?

Many farmers inherit their land and continue the family tradition of farming. People who own or manage their land but did not grow up in a farming family, are known as first-generation farmers.

The daily responsibilities of a farmer will vary depending on whether they are growing crops or raising livestock, and the size of the farm. Here are some common duties:

What does a farmer do?

While some farmers grow food and raise livestock, other farmers produce raw materials for textiles or products, such as cotton.

Depending on the industry, a farmer’s job may entail planting fruits and vegetables, soil management and rotation, harvesting crops, the use of heavy machinery and animal husbandry. Here is a list of 13 farming industries a person might choose to work in:

How to become a farmer

Here are eight steps to take if you are interested in becoming a farmer:

1. Research different farming careers

The first step in becoming a farmer is to research the various farming careers available. Some people run commercial farms in which massive quantities of food, food products, raw materials or livestock are distributed to people around the country. Other people run small farms and focus on serving a local community or niche demographic. For example, a beekeeper, micro farmer or urban farmer may focus on providing goods for people within a particular community.

Some people decide they want to run a farm that thrives on community involvement and engagement. For example, farms and vineyards where you can pick your own fruits often hold events and charge admission fees.

Take time to research how many farms are in your area. You can also find valuable career information online or by attending first-generation farming seminars. Conducting this preliminary research can help you narrow your options and identify your interests.

2. Talk to people who work in farming industries

After conducting research on the types of farms available, you will likely have a short list of career choices in farming that interest you. Use this list to identify who you should speak with in the farming industry. If youre most interested in potentially running an urban farm, a pick-your-own type of farm or vineyard, find people who already run those types of businesses.

You might call a farming business and schedule an informational interview or you ask a few casual questions when you visit your local farmer’s market. In your research, make sure to ask questions about the farmer’s daily routine, their expectations, when they started and if they are happy with their career to gain valuable insight to use in your career planning.

3. Apply to an entry-level position

Whether you’ve narrowed your selection to one job or multiple, the next step is to apply for an entry-level position. Having farming experience before you make any major life changes or invest large sums of money can help you determine if this is the right career path for you. Also, you can use your entry-level position to forge professional connections, develop your skills, find a mentor and potentially secure a mid-level farming job.

Here is a list of entry-level farming positions you might want to consider:

4. Educate yourself about farming

Professional farmers do not have set educational requirements. However, if you wish to own your own farm or manage a farm, you may benefit from earning an associate degree or bachelors degree in agricultural sciences, farm business, sustainability or botany. A degree in science or business can help you understand the intricacies of farming, as well as the economic and financial aspects of running a farm.

It is important to take the time to educate yourself about the farming process, how to use the equipment and tools and what to expect from this career. In lieu of, or in addition to, your two or four-year degree program, you can educate yourself on farming by reading books, attending certification courses or seminars and conducting online research.

5. Research USDA Beginning Farmers loans and microloans

6. Get organized

Create a business plan and a business model which formally plans for costs, spending, production goals and estimated profits. Your plans should include information about where you would like to start your farm and whether relocation is necessary.

Track all of your expenses and income, and keep a ledger of your transactions with suppliers.

7. Purchase your equipment

There are specific machines, equipment and tools you’ll need to get started with your farming business. Based on your research, business plan and financial calculations, you can now source and purchase the equipment that you’ll need to maintain your farm. For example, you may need tractors, plows, harvesters, hay balers or mills.

8. Hire a farming crew

The last step in readying your new farm for operation is to find and train a team of capable employees. Research the specific farming industry you wish to work in, and the roles essential to that type of business. You will likely need to fill multiple full-time and part-time roles.

Skills needed for a career in farming

Here are six skills needed for a successful career in farming:

1. Tenacity and grit

Tenacity and grit are used to describe a persons perseverance and ability to face challenges. Starting a career in farm management is physically laborious and takes a lot of time and effort.

2. Business management

Business management involves the coordination of business operations, goals and practices. Owning or managing a farm requires that a person have a strong understanding of math, business ethics and entrepreneurship.

3. Organization and time management

Organization and time management refer to a persons ability to best use their time, space and energy. These skills are crucial for running a farming business, as certain tasks must be completed within specific time frames to avoid wasted produce or products.

4. Understanding of earth science and sustainability

Earth science is the study of the earth and its chemical and physical makeup, and sustainability is the practice and study of preserving land, water and other natural resources. As a farmer, these principles are crucial for the operation of a successful farm.

5. Ability to operate heavy machinery

Many farming industries involve the operation of heavy machinery. It is important for farm owners and managers to know how to operate, maintain and repair these machines.

6. Strong judgment

Having strong judgment means having exceptional foresight and the ability to make good decisions. As a farm owner or business manager, you will be responsible for hiring staff members, managing schedules and making choices about suppliers and supplies. For success in these areas, it’s important for you to have sound judgment.

FAQ

Can I just become a farmer?

Anyone can become a farmer. In fact, you can decide right now that you want to farm, even if you don’t own land.

What should I study if I want to be a farmer?

Primarily, farmers are trained through hands-on experience and are not required to have a college degree. However, associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in farming or agriculture are available. Aspiring farmers can learn through apprenticeships or by being supervised and trained by experienced farmers.

Do farmers make a lot of money?

About 89 percent of U.S. farms are small, with gross cash farm income less than $350,000; the households operating these farms typically rely on off-farm sources for most of their household income. In contrast, the median household operating large-scale farms earned $402,780 in 2020, and most of that came from farming.

How do I become a farmer with no money?

How to Start a Farm with No Money
  1. Get Experience from Another Farmer.
  2. Look For Deals on the Market.
  3. Start Purchasing Livestock Young.
  4. Purchase a Good Truck.
  5. Never Loan nor Borrow Anything.
  6. Stock Up on Everything.
  7. Rent Out the Best Farm for You.
  8. Look Into Possible Grants.

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