4 Ways to Be a Farmer

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4 Ways to Be a Farmer
4 Ways to Be a Farmer

The dream of living off the land, plowing the soil, cultivating the land and connecting with nature is shared by many people. However, especially if you've never lived on a farm, it can be easy to romanticize country life, thinking it's super quiet, meditative, and the exact opposite of the hectic pace of big cities. But reality is nothing like that and, in fact, not anyone can be a farmer. There are those who say that there is a big difference between people who know how to live off the land and farmers; therefore, before making a definitive choice, consider your personality, your goals and your strengths.


Method 1 of 4: Examining Your Personality

Be a Farmer Step 1

Step 1. Think about why you want to be a farmer

This is hard work, which requires not only specific knowledge on the subject, but also a high investment. You have to be part entrepreneur, part small business owner, part scientist and part manual worker. Furthermore, this is a risky business and, even if you do everything right, the result is still unpredictable: natural disasters such as floods and droughts can wipe out crops, pests can destroy the harvest and the price of the crop produced can plummet.

Running a farm typically requires a lot more time than a traditional 9 am to 5 pm job. Unless you plan to take care of a very small farm or large garden, you will have to devote yourself full time to this new business

Be a Farmer Step 2

Step 2. Think about your priorities and how you want to spend your day to day

What are your goals? Are they concrete, like a figure to profit annually or spend more time with the family? Or they are abstract, like seeking a better quality of life or a feeling of satisfaction.

Analyze what you are willing to sacrifice and what you cannot give up. What do you need and what are you willing to do to reach your goals?

Be a Farmer Step 3

Step 3. Decide if your personality matches farm life

While it offers a sense of independence and connection to your homeland, it is also a great responsibility. Determining how you would likely react to certain situations is a good way to find out if you were made for country life.

  • Would you feel comfortable being solely responsible for a major operation? The success of many small properties depends solely on the owner(s). As a farmer, you will be responsible for all day-to-day operations as well as long-term planning. You will have to make many decisions that put the future of the farm at risk.
  • Can you live with uncertainty and handle variance? In a farmer's life it is, nothing is guaranteed and the risk of failure is high. Even good years can only be enough to cover production costs, with no profit left. Because of all these difficulties, it is estimated, for example, that the number of farmers in the US will fall by 19% between 2012 and 2022.
  • Can you solve problems creatively? Farm life is full of challenges and the ability to come up with creative solutions is vital to succeed.
  • Are you patient? In this business, the learning curve is quite steep and you will undoubtedly make mistakes in the beginning. Also, it can take a long time (years included) for your farm to be successful. Because of this, it is essential to work with long-term plans.
Be a Farmer Step 4

Step 4. List your strengths and weaknesses

Be honest: What do you do well? And what are your weaknesses?

  • Do you understand accounting? To ensure the proper functioning of the farm, it is essential to know how to calculate risk margins, keep records of sales and purchases, and monitor profits.
  • Can you do heavy work? Everyday jobs are extremely tiring and demanding, especially for the back. Even with today's modern equipment, such as tractors, it is essential to be in good shape and in good health to be a farmer.
  • Do you have enough capital to invest? Starting a farm, however small, requires a lot of capital. It is necessary to buy materials and equipment. In addition, you will either need to buy a piece of land or have to deal with extremely disadvantageous rental agreements that leave you with almost no control over the farm.
  • You learn fast? You will need to absorb a lot of new information and keep constantly updated on new trends and techniques in order to be successful in this field.
  • Do you have significant health problems? Health plans can be quite expensive for self-employed professionals. If you have a chronic health problem or if you need a lot of expensive medications on a daily basis, it's likely that farm life won't provide the stability you need.
Be a Farmer Step 5

Step 5. Decide whether you want to deal with the economic difficulties faced by small properties

Small farms are notoriously bad businesses, and in the US, for example, 91% of them need extra income (whether it's a second job or a state subsidy) to survive. If you're planning to save for your retirement or to send your kids to a good college, this probably isn't the right line for you.

The median farm income in the US was -$1,453 dollars, meaning that, among small properties, the most common result was to lose around $1,500 dollars a year

Method 2 of 4: Deciding if Farm Life is For You

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Step 1. Visit websites for farmers

To make the right decision about becoming a farmer, it is important to collect as much information as possible about the topic.

  • The American NGO Farm Aid makes a lot of interesting information available on its website. Check out the following guide (in English) created for beginning farmers:
  • The National Young Farmers Coalition is another American institution with specific information for young farmers.
  • The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, a USDA branch, has a project called Start2Farm that provides a wealth of information on starting a farm, seeking funding, and where to settle.
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Step 2. Talk to farmers about their lives and experiences

This is the best way to get informed and better understand this world. If there is a local farmers market in your area, this is a great place to get to know them better. Ask them what they like and what they hate about this job.

  • If there are farms in your area, call or email asking if you can visit. Although most farmers are extremely busy, they are also passionate about their work and will be happy to talk to you.
  • You can also visit online forums to ask questions and learn directly from farmers. However, it is usually more productive to talk to people in person.
Be a Farmer Step 9

Step 3. Volunteer on a farm

If you're really thinking about becoming a farmer, this is a great way to decide if you'd like that lifestyle without having to invest any capital. Some organizations, such as WWOOF ("World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms"), make available a list of volunteer opportunities on organic farms around the world (for a small annual fee). In addition, several small farms in your area can accept volunteers.

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Step 4. Search for farms in your area looking for "interns" or "apprentices"

Many of these programs provide room and advice, as well as a small salary for your work.

Method 3 of 4: Getting Started as a Farmer

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Step 1. Determine what type of crop to plant

It can be an almost impossible task trying to determine what to grow on your property, but there are ways to make that decision easier. If you live in an area with a demand for organic products, for example, this can be an excellent option, as this is one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture in the world. There are several resources that can define the ideal culture for you and your region:

  • The "New England Small Farm Institute" provides several links to help you decide which crop to plant.
  • The "National Agriculture Library" can also be a good option, although it is more focused on regional crops for the US.
  • Contact the agency responsible for agriculture in your state for more specific information on which crops are best suited to your area.
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Step 2. Find a property to plant

Most startups don't have the capital to buy a property, at least in the beginning. Furthermore, in the United States, for example, 80% of cultivated land is controlled by owners who are not farmers. The advice of experts in the field is to "start small", managing someone else's property, renting property (from an individual or an organization) or taking over the management of an existing (and preferably already profitable) farm.

Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to find a property. Expand your network of contacts while looking for the ideal farm

Be a Farmer Step 13

Step 3. Be realistic about your potential areas

You may have to relocate to find some land options at a reasonable price. While you can fantasize about your dream property in the ideal place, these regions are also often the most expensive, making business almost impossible. Look for land in areas that are busy enough to buy the products you need for everyday life, but not so crowded that its cost makes the business unfeasible.

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Step 4. Choose secure financing for your farm

Programs specially designed for new farmers are often the best option.

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Step 5. Limit your development initially

One way to control your initial cost and limit your risk of failure is to start small and build up gradually. In the beginning, there is no need for expensive, state-of-the-art equipment, for example. Your main object should be to focus on the soil and your product.

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Step 6. Plant what you know

While experimenting with other crops is interesting, in the beginning, it is essential that you plant what you are most experienced with. If you did your internship on a coffee farm, plant coffee. If you volunteered on a cattle farm, raise cattle. You can diversify in the future, but starting with something you already know and have experience with is extremely important and lowers your risk of failure.

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Step 7. Promote your products

Your network of personal contacts and within the community will be the main way to promote your products, although fortunately there are still other marketing options available. Make coupons available in the local newspaper, offer samples of your products on aaa street (pick your own) or even call local restaurants and see if they are not interested in buying your locally produced products.

Promote your business on Facebook and Twitter. Post photos of your beautiful farm and beautiful products on Flickr and Instagram. Create an inspirational page on Pinterest. While social media is not directly related to land care, it is a powerful way to make your products more popular. And the best part: absolutely free

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Step 8. Join associations for regional producers

This is an excellent way to increase your network of contacts, promote your product, stay up to date on the industry, and even get new customers.

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Step 9. Consider opening your farm to tourists

While this idea may seem like a very "sold" to you, there are plenty of individuals in big cities who would like to learn more about country life and get their hands (just a little) dirty. Consider offering farm tours and gardening lessons. You can also make the property available as a space for weddings. Maximizing income from different sources of income is an excellent way to survive the worst years.

Typically, wedding budgets are high and newlyweds are willing to spend a little extra to have the ceremony in a picturesque rural area. The cost of renting space for a ceremony can reach thousands of reais and therefore represent a large percentage of your annual income

Method 4 of 4: Thinking Like a Farmer

Be a Farmer Step 20

Step 1. Keep learning daily

Learning to plant and raise animals is just the first step. Once you understand the basics, continue to research new techniques and opportunities, always trying to learn from other farmers. Don't settle down; always try to learn and improve.

  • Rely on the opinion of people who are experienced and knowledgeable in the field to get the information you need.
  • It is important to learn not only from your mistakes, but also from others. There is a common saying in aviation that applies very well to farmers: "Learn from the mistakes of others, because you won't live long enough to learn from your own."
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Step 2. Engage with the community

Being well connected in the community is critical to operating a successful farm. Having good local relationships means you have someone to turn to when you need it.

You may not advertise or sell your product if you do not know or are unable to communicate effectively with the community. Make friendships and business partnerships with people involved in agriculture, whether they are heavy equipment mechanics, butchers, sales representatives, potential buyers, other farmers or sellers

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Step 3. Appreciate what you have

Most farmers aren't rich and don't have a lot of money to spend on luxuries and "toys." However, this lifestyle gives you the opportunity to solve problems and think creatively on a daily basis, to be your own boss and to feel proud after a long day at work. Many farmers say they love the feeling of independence and don't see themselves working with anything else.

  • You don't need the latest equipment to be a farmer. Thinking that it's critical to spend a fortune on top-of-the-line machinery is a common mistake for newcomers to the business. Ask experienced farmers for advice.
  • However, don't be afraid to expand your assets to improve the farm. There is a fine line between working with what you have and having to spend money to get what you need (and don't just want) for your property.
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Step 4. Get ready to work with everything

You will need to do odd jobs as a welder, mechanic, electrician, chemist, plumber, bricklayer, accountant, veterinarian, entrepreneur, advertising and even economist. Make sure you are prepared for any job!

If you don't have all these skills, find someone to teach you. It is at these times that a good network of contacts is essential

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Step 5. Respect your property

As a farmer, your success depends not only on your work and skills, but also on animals and the forces of nature. Love your land for what it is and don't try to make it something different. Knowing how to appreciate your farm's ecosystem is a way to better understand it.

  • The region of the farm will define the type of climate you need to face and whether or not you can grow certain crops or raise certain animals.
  • Respect the equipment too. Remember that machinery is not a toy and should not be treated as such. They are extremely powerful and can easily maim or kill someone if not operated according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
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Step 6. Love and be proud of what you do

As a farmer, you are growing food for people who don't have the time to do it, don't have the space, or just don't want to. Unlike many people, you can live true rural life with its ups and downs and all the hard work it takes. In the United States, only 2% of the population cultivates the land. In Canada, only 5%. So be proud to be part of a minority capable of providing food for the population.


  • Some qualities such as responsibility, creativity, flexibility, keen intuition and the ability to learn are important to being a farmer.
  • Never be afraid to ask for help. No one is born knowing everything, not even those raised on a farm. So it's much better to ask for advice than to make the wrong decision and fail.


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