New to Farming

  • The 4 Ps for New Farmers

    THE 4 "P"s FOR NEW FARMERS

    Welcome to Start2Farm.gov. If you are considering starting a farm but are new to farming, you’ve found the right place.

    Successful farmers will tell you that there is no better life than being a farmer. Farmers take good care of the land and water for future generations. Physical work helps farm families stay healthy. Farmers work together with their neighbors to build strong, close knit communities. Farmers feed families, individuals, and communities who may be close by or located throughout the world.

    But being a farmer or rancher is not simply a job change. It is a life change. This short introduction will alert you to a few of the questions you need to consider before taking on a farm or ranch business.

    So take a moment to check out the 4 Ps for New Farmers:

    1. Purpose
    2. Plan
    3. Product
    4. People
  • Who will help you farm?

    PURPOSE

    Why do you want to become a farmer?
    Some people want to start farming based on a strong sense of mission. For example, they want to protect the environment or help feed the world. Some people simply want to enjoy an entrepreneurial lifestyle that allows them to work out of doors. Whatever your reasons, you should step back and take a practical view of the farming lifestyle.

    • Are you prepared for a job that requires long hours, including early mornings and late nights?
    • Have you considered the economics of seasonal earnings?
    • Are you able to take on the physical rigors of the job?
    • Can you learn to make do and fix things yourself?
    • Can you handle setbacks with grace and determination?
    • Do you have the patience to start a career with a steep learning curve and a long road to finally getting on your feet?

    Start2Farm can help you find programs and resources to help you consider whether or not farming is right for you.

  • Do you have a plan?

    PLAN

    You may have the drive to start a farm, but do you have the plan?

    A plan details what you hope to do and maps how you expect to succeed. A well-crafted business plan can be the difference between success and failure. A plan includes a thoughtful list of what you need but also details how things will get done.

    • What are you going to plant?
    • How much will you sell it for and when do you expect to see profit?
    • What equipment do you need? Who will fix it?
    • How will you cover costs of insurance premiums? mortgage or rent? labor?
    • How will you finance the business?

    A plan also considers how things might go wrong and how to prepare for the unexpected.

    • Do you have a disaster plan?
    • Can you weather a bad year?
    • Can you make changes to stay in business?

    A good business plan is supplemented by a personal plan. Have you considered your:

    • non-farm needs? health insurance? retirement? college fund? personal savings?

    Start2Farm can help you find programs that will assist you in setting up a solid business plan.

  • What are you going to produce?

    PRODUCT

    What are you going to commit your time and money to producing? You may feel very strongly about your farm product but consider the following:

    Who is going to buy it? Be sure you can sell before you plant. Know your cost of production, your market, and your consumers. Compare the price of your product to what others are selling it for. If you want to sell locally, visit your local markets and find out what is selling and what isn’t.

    Where else can you sell? Are you able to produce something different than what you planned if the market changes?

    How will you get your product to consumers? What are the transportation costs and requirements? To grow for local markets it is ideal to find land close to a city, but that may mean leasing rather than owning land.

    Do you know the food safety regulations and do you have the proper licensing for your state or municipality? You must know local ordinances dealing with land use and agricultural products for farming and marketing your crop.

    Start2Farm can help you find the services and resources in your area.

  • Who will help you farm?

    PEOPLE

    Family

    You may want to farm but what about your spouse or domestic partner? What about your children? Are they ready to take on this lifestyle change? Will you be moving away from your support network of friends and family? Can you build a support network for farming?

    Neighbors and Community

    Not everyone understands how important farming is and why you do it. You should expect to do some outreach, to explain what you plan to do and how it will affect others. Who are your neighbors? Are they farmers? Non-farmers? What impact will your farm have on them and what impact will they have on you? Be the first to extend the hand of friendship to your neighbors and the people in your community. Good relations with your community are vital to a successful farming or ranching enterprise.

    Start2Farm can help you find groups to help you build your support networks.

  • Start2Farm can help, find out more.

    Find more

    There are people who can examine your farm business plans and help you make the best decisions for your situation. Start2Farm is here to help you find people with answers and resources to help build your farm business. But remember, it’s up to you to make good decisions based on sound advice.

    To further explore starting a farm, go to the New to Farming resources to find more in-depth resources.

    Alternately, you may feel strongly about supporting farms and access to nutritious food but that being a farmer is not quite for you. In that case, explore our Support Farming Communities page to find ways to support farmers, rural communities, and vibrant, healthy food systems.