Starting a small farm can be a rewarding endeavour for anyone who has ever wished to take care of livestock, raise crops and enjoy the rural lifestyle. One can also make a small amount of money from the goods that are produced. However, starting a small farm takes some forethought and dedication. Starting a small farm requires you to find the right land to purchase, acquire start-up capital, register the farm as a business and purchase livestock, crop seeds and farm equipment.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Decide what land to purchase. The land type and climate should be big enough to accommodate expansion and should be suitable for the purpose of the farm. For example, if you want to grow crops, it would be unwise to purchase a piece of Arizona desert land. If you wish to raise livestock, find land with a pasture for grazing. Find land with good soil and the right climate for particular crops if you wish to grow produce. Some farm land may already have existing structures such as barns or sheds that were built by previous owners. These additional structures will make the land will be more expensive to purchase. Search for land to purchase in rural areas outside of towns and cities or by consulting a directory (See Resources).
Find start-up capital. Running a farm can be expensive, depending on its scope and size. Unless you have some money saved, take some time to acquire start-up capital for the farm, as you will need money to purchase the land, acquire crops and livestock, feed, fertiliser, and farm equipment, such as tractors, combines, and trailers. The National Agricultural Library (See Resources) offers a list of funding resources for small farms, including loan programs and business plan guides.
Register the farm as a business. If the farm is only a hobby, then registering the farm as a business is not required. However, if you plan to sell goods from the farm, such as milk, beef or eggs, check the requirements for registering a business in the state the farm is located. An Employer Identification Number, or EIN, is also required from the IRS for many businesses and can be obtained by going to the Internal Revenue Service website (See Resources).
Obtain farm equipment depending on the type of livestock or crops you wish to have. Livestock will require fenced-in areas with plenty of pasture for grazing, access to clean water and possibly shelters or stables. Livestock will also need feed, immunisation shots and a trailer for transportation. Crops will require a patch of uncleared land with good soil and possibly wire mesh fences to keep out animals and possibly a combine and tractor for harvesting. A truck is also handy for transportation, rounding up cattle, hauling hay and other materials. Acquire any additional structures needed for the smooth functioning of the farm, such as a shed, dairy barn, milking stand or freezer.
Obtain livestock and crops. After all the farm equipment and structures are in place, then the livestock and crops can be purchased. Crop seeds can be bought from local markets or seed catalogues and directories (See Resources). Livestock can be purchased from local auctions, other farmers or from online suppliers. (See Resources).
Educate yourself. To maximise the efficiency of the farm, read trade journals and guides about farming and meet with nearby neighbours to ask them for advice. Many colleges offer agricultural and livestock classes which are beneficial in learning how to improve the workings of your small farm. Organizations such as the National Farmer's Association and the Small Business Association can also provide resources and education to small farm owners.
Tips and warnings
- If raising livestock, have a veterinarian come out to the farm to perform yearly check-ups so the livestock remain healthy.
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