How do I Become a Farmer?

Margo Upson
Margo Upson
Margo Upson
Margo Upson
Milk from a dairy farm.
Milk from a dairy farm.

Farming is a noble profession. Farmers are responsible for feeding the world, through the production of grains, produce, dairy, eggs, and meat. The job is challenging and physically demanding. It is not a job for the faint of heart, or for those with weak stomachs. Although it is a difficult career, it is one that is enjoyed by millions of individuals around the world.

Ranches and dairy farms usually have veterinarians on call.
Ranches and dairy farms usually have veterinarians on call.

To become a farmer, it is important to first understand the nature of the career. The pay is often poor, the work is hard, the hours are long, and there is very little thanks. You must be disciplined and self-motivated. The best place to start is to work for a few years on another farm. Learn as much as possible about the care of the animals or crops, learn how to use the equipment, and make contacts with other farmers in the area. Building up this experience will allow you the chance to determine if farming is right for you, as well as giving you the experience you need to get started.

Farmers need to find markets for their goods.
Farmers need to find markets for their goods.

There are several agriculture colleges that offer degrees relevant to farming. These include farm management and farm science degrees, among others. These degrees can give you the background you need to get started with a farm. A degree is not essential for those who wish to become a farmer, but it is helpful.

Farming requires a lot of land. Depending on what you are planning on raising, and the size of your operation, you may need anywhere from 50 to over 100 acres. There are two ways to get this land. The first is to buy a farm, complete with the barn, home, outbuildings, and possibly some of the equipment. You may even be able to buy a farm with livestock, especially if the previous owners are getting entirely out of the farming business. This may be the most expensive option outright, but it saves you from having to buy everything separately for higher prices later on.

Farm management requires knowledge of modern technology to track finances and production.
Farm management requires knowledge of modern technology to track finances and production.

The other option is to by the land you need, and then build barns and other outbuildings as you need them. This prevents you from having to pay for more than you need. For example, if your goal is to become a farmer that grows corn or other produce, without livestock, you won't need a barn. You will need a place to keep your equipment, and the acreage to grow on. You wouldn't even have to live on the property.

Some farmers set up stands onsite to sell their vegetables.
Some farmers set up stands onsite to sell their vegetables.

After purchasing the farm, you will need to purchase any equipment, livestock, feed, seeds, or other necessities you will need to become a farmer. Depending on your previous experience, it might be beneficial to start small, and then grow as you become adjusted to the demands of the job. You will also need to hire any laborers or other farm personnel you may need to keep running.

In addition to raising crops, produce farmers must set up well-designed marketing strategies.
In addition to raising crops, produce farmers must set up well-designed marketing strategies.

If you don't have a lot of experience, you may want to consider hiring workers with several years of experience, and maybe even a foreman to help you run things. This is also a good time to find a veterinarian, accountant, or other service professionals. Especially with the vet, it is important to build a relationship before you need them.

Find a market for your goods. Other farmers in the area may be able to help you with this step. You will need to make note of any requirements the company has. For example, milk companies have restrictions on what medicines can be given to cows, to prevent contaminating the milk. Companies who buy produce from farmers will have strict rules about the different types of fertilizers and pesticides are allowed.

Many farms are passed down from generation to generation.
Many farms are passed down from generation to generation.

Farming is a great career, but it is not for everyone. Be prepared to incur major debt in your efforts to become a farmer. There are a lot of start-up costs and the pay is low, which can quickly turn into a financial crisis. Have a plan for loan repayment before you begin. Get the support of local farmers, and don't be afraid to ask for advice. There are very few people outside of farming who understand the hardships and triumphs that are a part of the job. Farming is hard, but if you are committed to making it work, you should be able to find success.

Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Margo has a varied academic background, which has involved everything from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education. These wide-ranging interests make her an ideal wiseGEEK writer, as she always enjoys becoming an expert on new and unfamiliar topics.

Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Margo has a varied academic background, which has involved everything from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education. These wide-ranging interests make her an ideal wiseGEEK writer, as she always enjoys becoming an expert on new and unfamiliar topics.

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    • Milk from a dairy farm.
      Milk from a dairy farm.
    • Ranches and dairy farms usually have veterinarians on call.
      Ranches and dairy farms usually have veterinarians on call.
    • Farmers need to find markets for their goods.
      Farmers need to find markets for their goods.
    • Farm management requires knowledge of modern technology to track finances and production.
      Farm management requires knowledge of modern technology to track finances and production.
    • Some farmers set up stands onsite to sell their vegetables.
      Some farmers set up stands onsite to sell their vegetables.
    • In addition to raising crops, produce farmers must set up well-designed marketing strategies.
      In addition to raising crops, produce farmers must set up well-designed marketing strategies.
    • Many farms are passed down from generation to generation.
      Many farms are passed down from generation to generation.
    • Machinery like tractors and accessories may need to be purchased when starting a farm.
      Machinery like tractors and accessories may need to be purchased when starting a farm.
    • Some local farmers who produce vegetables and other crops have marketing agreements with wholesalers.
      Some local farmers who produce vegetables and other crops have marketing agreements with wholesalers.