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becoming a farmer

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  • Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - 04:50pm

    #1

    bbobwat33

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    becoming a farmer

has anyone thought about farming for a living. i mean to make money. i’ve heard alot of folks saying that farming will be really big in the next decade or so. So i’m wondering if anyone has thought of this as a possible career path? i understand the startup cost to someone getting into the field would be tremendous, but with people like jim rogers talking what he talks about the future of agriculture, it seems like taking on the initial startup and overhead would be a good investment. any thoughts?

  • Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - 05:19pm

    #2
    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: becoming a farmer

I thought about this but then I went to Deere.com and look at the price of a new combine.  This combined with land, irrigation, other equipment.  You would need at least a million dollars, and I do not see anybody loaning a million dollars to a new farmer anytime soon, but if you can get the money go for it.

  • Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - 05:43pm

    #3
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    Re: becoming a farmer

There may not be enough oil to run all that.  Look into a couple of horses, a plow, a wife that wants a lot of kids, and decent land.  May want to look into a greenhouse or greenhouse construction as well.

  • Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - 05:57pm

    #4
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    Re: becoming a farmer

I think the only sane way to move forward with your query is with permaculture farming, essentially meaning no fossil fuel inputs (that’s right, no mechanization) and no mono-cropping.

As far as making money, I think that phrase might mean quite a different thing even five years from now. So, yes, I think you can make money farming, but your not going to become the new nouveau riche or anything. Not saying you’re thinking or saying that, but I do talk to a lot of people who think somewhat along those lines and a couple specifically who reference Rogers and think they’re going to become millionaires by starting a farm.

I think the future of farming will be small, ultra-diverse farms that service the needs of their immediate populations. And I think the future is quite bright along those lines.

We’ve got six acres that we’ve been slowly developing toward that end. Our hope is to make enough of a living from it that we can scrape by or, perhaps, only have to work part-time doing other things.  

  • Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - 06:59pm

    #5
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    Re: becoming a farmer

[quote=mainecooncat]

I think that phrase might mean quite a different thing even five years from now. So, yes, I think you can make money farming, but your not going to become the new nouveau riche or anything. Not saying you’re thinking or saying that, but I do talk to a lot of people who think somewhat along those lines and a couple specifically who reference Rogers and think they’re going to become millionaires by starting a farm.

I think the future of farming will be small, ultra-diverse farms that service the needs of their immediate populations. And I think the future is quite bright along those lines.

[/quote]

Hey, the amish about 30 miles down the road seem to be doing just fine and farming without oil is what they do.

My fiance and I have discussed putting in a small berry farm, five or six acres of raised bed grown berries that end up in the form of jams, jellies and ice creams sold from an on-farm retail store and online.

we are also looking at becoming gourmet pickle canners featuring all kinds of cool pickles and relishes.

The poster above is correct. No one is going to loan a new, inexperienced farmer money to start an operation if he trys it the way they have always done it.

I do follow Jim Rogers and he thinks agriculture will be where the money is at for the next 20 years or so.

  • Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - 07:27pm

    #6
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    Re: becoming a farmer

I’ve thought about it and I think you need to scale down your aspirations on farm size. CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are an attractive option and there is plenty to read about them on the web. http://www.localharvest.org/ has a few interesting blogs from folks running these farms. In my research, my biggest challenge has been finding the right match of affordability and a location near (a) rail, (b) a population base that is not dirt poor, and (c) near family. 

I am not passed this point, but I think there are real farmers on the site that can share their experiences. 

  • Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - 08:13pm

    #7
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    Re: becoming a farmer

I wasn’t born a farmer, my wife and I decided to try and set up a nursery here as an extension of an existing farm operation.

Best way I can describe it is its like recieving a sentence of 30 years hard labor.  I will be 70 then. 

You can forget the expensive John Deere’s with the air-conditioned cabs.  Expect to be out there yourself.  Its like gambling with your life, as mistakes cost $$$.  You’ll wish you were a mechanic, welder, construction guy (all materials), electrician, plumber, biologist, all rolled into one, and still have a green thumb.  Finding appropriate and cost-effective labor is a problem.  It is challenging.

  • Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - 09:23pm

    #8
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    Re: becoming a farmer

Read Gene Logsdon’s "Contrary Farmer".   He overviews the methodology and significant efficiency of small scale farming to feed your family and a few others, while caring for your land, animals and great old equipment.  Start slowly and don’t quit your day job right away — and you won’t need a health club to get a work out.  If your goal is to eat well, respect the land and make a little money, it can work.  Look up your local ag extension office.

  • Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - 09:35pm

    #9
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    Re: becoming a farmer

A good book on Farming is Joe Salatin’s "You Can Farm". He outlines what he believes are the best and worst opportunities in farming. Theres a lot of information in the book and he debunks the myths about modern hi-tech farming such as:

*You need a lot of expensive machinery – he started with a pickup and borrowed neighbours machines, he recycles all sorts of stuff, has a small sawmill, and builds many small temporary structures.

*You need a huge piece of land – he portrays several very successful farmers with modest acreage. He believes landlocation is much more important than size as you need to be close to your customer to be a successful farmer.

*You need to have a huge operation to be profitable – Salatin attacks industrial type farming such as containment hog houses, caged chickens etc, and focuses on grass fed, well taken care of animals that he sells for much higher prices to people in his local community. Instead of a typical farmer collecting 9c on the $ and selling to the conglomerates – he sells locally and keeps a much higher percentage. 

Salatin has been succesful as a farmer who went his own way that challenged all of the stereotypes and practices of large scale modern farming. This success is also manifest in the popular apprenticeship program he has had for many years, which last I read has a 3year waiting list.

I though the book was very good and presents farming as a business and a lifestyle in a pragmatic and entertaining way. 

 

  • Mon, Apr 06, 2009 - 09:54pm

    #10
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    Re: becoming a farmer

I agree with Burke: read Joel Salatin.  Yes, it is possible, but it’s not a career path – it’s more like a calling.  If you want a high-paying job, forget farming.  In fact, forget most of the cliches: it’s no longer about manly men on John Deeres wearing baseball caps plowing the back 40.  According to the US Census of Agriculture more women than men are getting involved in farming now. (there goes the "wife that wants a lot of kids") The US Dept. of Ag. recognizes that the very definition of "farmer" has changed over the last decade.  Smaller plots, part-time farmers, low- or no-tech tools.  Lots of hard work, flexibility and business smarts, such as setting up a CSA, and probably an off-farm job to pay the taxes and insurance.

Lynn Miller of the Small Farmer’s Journal says that there has never been a better time to be a farmer.  He’s right.  Farmers Markets have tripled in numbers over the past year alone.  People are hungry (sorry!) to join the Locavore movement.  Consumers have had enough of chemicals in their foods.  They will buy your produce, but they probably want to meet you and talk to you about your vocation.   

Stop worrying about investments and just get out and get your hands dirty.  The sense of satisfaction is well worth everything else.

Cheers, Sue the dirt farmer

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