How and Why to Become a Farmer

A growing population, increased global food demand and the ongoing destruction of natural habitats have led to a dire need for sustainable farming solutions. Additionally, many people are now interested in becoming farmers as an alternative career path or just as a hobby. In this article we will discuss how you can become a farmer without having any agricultural experience but by learning from existing farms around you and other individuals who may be willing to teach their techniques.

The “i want to be a farmer where do i start” is a question that many people have been asking. In order to become a farmer, you will need to research the different types of agriculture and find one that interests you. You can also learn about farming practices in your area.

Farming is not only a masculine occupation, but it is also the first step toward sophisticated civilization. Communities were able to cease roaming when men laid down spears and took up plows. Agriculture employed 39 percent of Americans before the beginning of the century; now, it employs fewer than 2% of the population. Despite the fact that farming is a very different sector now, the traits that made individuals successful in the past are still useful today.

AoM reader Paul Leonard interviewed Brian Bradley, a lifelong farmer and family guy, for this week’s “So You Want My Job.” In Indiana, Mr. Bradley farms 1,800 acres of maize and soybeans. Thanks to Paul for conducting the interview and to Mr. Bradley for participating in our series.

1. Tell us about yourself in a few words. (Can you tell me where you’re from? What is your age? Describe your job, including how long you’ve been doing it, and so on.)

In Montgomery County, Indiana, I was born and reared on a farm. I reside in a farmhouse constructed in 1865 that has been in my family for five generations, half a mile down the road from where I grew up. I’ve been farming for as long as I can remember, and I’m 40 years old.

Part agronomic, half economist, part banker, part mechanic, part entrepreneur, part common worker, this is my job. Planting and harvesting are just a small part of what farmers do each year. The importance of the business side of things in determining whether a farmer succeeds or fails is considerably more important.

2. What made you want to be a farmer in the first place? When did you realize you wanted to do it?

I don’t recall ever thinking to myself, “This isn’t what I wanted to do.” My father was a farmer, and he continues to assist me on a daily basis. I grew up assisting him as soon as I was able. I’ve done a few other occupations, the most recent of which was working in a steel factory, but none of them were as enjoyable as farming.

3. Describe a normal day in your life.

Is it the beginning of the year or the end of the year? That’s one of the things I like about farming: the schedule is always changing, so you’re never bored doing the same job for too long. The majority of the days in the spring are spent getting equipment ready for planting. When the weather permits, we’re out in the field from sunrise to sunset, planting and drilling seed. We then return to spray for weeds, fertilize, and spray for weeds one more. We cut and bail hay in between those times to feed the livestock over the winter. We prepare equipment for harvest in late summer and normally take some vacation time. Then, when it’s harvest time, we’re out in the fields till nightfall. Winter is often the quietest season, but there’s still plenty of work to be done carrying corn and beans to elevators, taking care of business, putting finances and seed in order for next spring, and having a little fun on the snowmobile.

 

4. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

Being your own boss, being able to take time off for family activities, and having a flexible schedule are all wonderful things. However, there is something unique about the custom. Farming is such a long-standing institution that it becomes ingrained in your DNA. It has a really gratifying and meaningful quality about it.

5. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

(extended pause…) There isn’t much I don’t like about it. However, slogging through the red tape connected with government programs isn’t much fun. And since most farmers are paid once a year, it may be tough to plan and budget for the next year. Every year, it becomes more difficult to obtain suitable farmland, yet if you don’t expand, you will ultimately perish.

Listen to our podcast with Forrest Pritchard, a farmer: 

6. What is the most common misunderstanding about agriculture?

I’ve always been around agriculture, so I’m not sure what people’s perceptions of farming are. However, many people are startled at how difficult farming has become. There’s a lot more to it than just planting a seed and harvesting the results many months later. There’s a significant economic component to it; we’re continuously monitoring markets to get the greatest pricing for our product and the lowest costs for seed, fertilizer, and equipment. Many types of crops are now bio-engineered, and tractors now have GPS-guided driving systems. Chemistry is required to understand fertilizers, soil types, and weed killers. The industry is always evolving. Many of the agricultural procedures that we employ now would be foreign to my grandpa.

Farmers, I think, have the image of rural bumpkins in overall bibs and straw hats chewing tobacco…well, the tobacco part isn’t far off. However, most farmers nowadays are college educated and spend as much time in an office as they do bouncing about in a tractor over a field. Some farmers I know haven’t touched a tractor in years.

7. How do you strike a balance between job, family, and personal life?

I had a car seat placed in the combine when my kids were newborns, and they’d sit with me for hours on end as I harvested. Unless the weather becomes poor during planting and harvest, farmers are completely focused on the work at hand. Aside from those four weeks of the year, it’s a rather relaxed schedule. Even if there’s always something to do, I can always find time for a cup of coffee or a friendly poker game in town.

8. Can a guy with no previous agricultural experience decide to become a farmer one day? If that’s conceivable, how would he go about doing it?

 

It’s difficult, but everything is achievable with enough money. If he were a young guy, I would advise him to go college and study agro-business. If he’s older, I’d advise him to purchase 1,000 acres of property and rent it out. Then see if you can shadow the farmer you’re renting from for a couple of growing seasons. There’s no other way to learn it but to do it. My acquaintance began out in his early twenties with no prior experience or understanding. He found a job as a farm laborer and began purchasing and renting land when he had the money. He’s a prosperous farmer now, but it wasn’t easy for him 20 years ago.

(An acre of tillable property in our region currently sells for roughly $4,500.) As a result, 1,000 acres will cost you 4.5 million dollars. A new combine will set you back roughly $300,000, plus you’ll need at least one nice tractor, a planter, a plow, disk, sprayer, fertilizer, a few grain trucks, and other other equipment.)

If that isn’t feasible, there are plenty of opportunities in agriculture-related businesses. Many individuals work for farmer-owned cooperatives, elevators, and other enterprises that sell to and purchase from farmers. Although we don’t all do the same kind of job, we all share a similar outlook on life.

9. Small farmers are becoming extinct as large agribusinesses devour them. Today’s small farmers face a slew of obstacles. What are some of the difficulties? What are the chances for this profession’s future?

Vertical integration has been the focus for the last 30 years. Farmers used to keep pigs, cows, and have a good large vegetable garden while growing a little maize, hay, oats, and beans. Specialization is the name of the game nowadays. Everyone in our region farms maize and soybeans, and that’s all. This pattern is likely to persist. As seed, fertilizer, and equipment become more costly, economies of scale will continue to grow. To achieve the same profit, each farmer will have to cultivate more and more acres. On the good side, everyone has to eat. Depending on what happens with corn-based gasoline, ethanol may or may not continue to play a significant role in agriculture. Insects, disease, and drought will continue to wreak havoc on harvests, thus biotech will continue to increase yields. Overall, I believe the future of the agricultural business is promising.

10. Do you have any other advice, ideas, or stories to share?

Farming is a philosophy or a way of life as much as it is a career. Most of the farmers I know have had several setbacks, but they are excellent problem solvers. It may not be the greatest, most attractive, safest, or most effective answer, but they must be very inventive in order to live.

 

 

 

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Becoming a farmer can be quite challenging. You must have a lot of patience and determination to become one. There are many things that you need to know in order to become successful as a farmer. To learn more about becoming a farmer, read the “How and Why to Become a Farmer” article. Reference: what qualifications do you need to be a farmer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why you should become a farmer?

A: Farming is an excellent way to get food and other materials for yourself or your family. Whats more, most of the crops that you will be able to grow are going to have a lot of nutritional value too!

How does one become a farmer?

A: A farmer is someone who grows and sells crops. To become a farmer, you can either start your own farm or be employed by one.

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