Estimated reading time: 5 mins
Is there anything more quintessentially American than buying a farm, working the land and living out your days in nature? In our opinion, there isn’t and a lot of people share that idea since farming has become increasingly popular with youngsters from all walks of life, despite challenges some farming niches have faced due to trade issues.
If you’re moved by the idea of starting a farm or a farmer coop, you’re in the right place. In this post, our team breaks down simple steps that you can take to do your farm’s pre-planning, line up its important elements and eventually, start turning a profit on your venture.
- Get Your Plan on Paper
A lot of people that jump into farming don’t understand that running a farm is like running any other business. Certainly farming is hands-on and unique in that you’re growing things or managing animals. Still, the aim of farming is to produce goods for purchase and turn a profit each year.
You need to understand how you’ll turn a profit by crafting a detailed business plan which will outline each step you’ll take towards making your farm successful. At this stage, you may have a lot more questions than answers for your business plan.
You’ll tweak your plan as you learn more but for now, start committing what you do know to paper.
- Talk to Mentors to Refine Your Vision
There’s nothing more helpful when starting a farm than having a mentor you can lean on. Mentors are great because they’ve been through the challenges you’re likely to face before and can provide you with a shortcut to circumventing those barriers.
To find a mentor, talk to friends and family to see if anyone you know has a contact that’s a farm owner. If the answer is no, take to social media to see if you can find online farming communities that are worth joining where you can ask questions and expand your network.
- Connect with the USDA
Speaking of expanding your network, the USDA is a fantastic place to make all sorts of connections and acquire incredible information for your venture. For the uninitiated, the USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture which is charged with supporting farming ventures across the country.
Through the USDA, you can find guidance for your farm and perhaps, more importantly, can apply for all sorts of grants and loans that will help get your venture off the ground.
There are thousands of USDA branches across the country so figure out which one is closest to you and head over!
- Register Your Business
Every business needs a name and needs to get registered with their state and the IRS. Fortunately, this is usually done easily through online applications.
Each state has an application process that will look a little bit different so run an online search to see what sorts of steps you may need to take to become official. As far as the IRS goes, if you plan on taking on employees, you’ll want an EIN (employer identification number) for documentation purposes. You can get one of those in minutes through the IRS website.
- Buy Your Land
You’ve gathered a ton of information, have a great business plan, and are all registered. Now it’s time to take the big step of acquiring your farm’s land.
We recommend buying the land you’re farming on rather than leasing or renting because you’ll need to make a lot of adjustments to it that may be barred by a lease. Furthermore, leased/rented land is always subject to being taken away from you which would be catastrophic if you’ve laid down infrastructure.
The land you buy should be heavily influenced by what your farming business will revolve around. Certain crops only grow on certain soil/in certain climates. Certain animals also thrive in specific conditions.
- Get Funded
For those of you that don’t have the money to buy land, acquire animals, or do other important tasks associated with starting a farm, securing funding will be important. Funding for a farm can be secured through two key means:
Getting a Loan
You can get a loan for a farm just like you would for any other business. Talk to a lender about giving you start-up cash, they’ll analyze your plan and choose whether or not to work with you.
There are special loans available to American farmers through the USDA.
Getting a Grant
There are all sorts of business grants available across the country and many of those are offered through the government specifically for farmers. Talk to a USDA rep to see what’s available to you.
- Acquire What You Need
With cash in hand, you’ll need to buy everything from wood to animals to farm equipment. You can acquire a lot of that stuff through specialty providers like Kennco Manufacturing, big box stores like a Home Depot, or from smaller, local operations that exist in your farm’s community.
Talk to your neighbors and see what they recommend. Chances are, they do business with a supply provider that they trust.
- Find Your Buyers
It’s downright impossible to run a business without buyers. Find yours as soon as possible so you can start making money!
Most farmers will have contracts with large buyers that supply grocery stores. Others go directly to consumers as well to help subsidize their earnings.
Find out what makes sense to you and run with it.
Starting a Farm May Be the Biggest, Most Rewarding Challenge of Your Life
There’s a lot of legwork that goes into starting a farm. Once you have it operational though and can live the dream life of good, honest work, living off of the land and owning a thriving piece of Earth… The payoff from all of that is indescribable.
We wish you the best of luck in your farming endeavor and would love for you to read more of the insightful posts in our digital business publication!