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Commercial Farming Experience

The term "new farmer" includes farmers with up to 10 years of farming experience. If you fall into this group we will bypass some of the introductory questions.
Select the option where you have the most experience. You will have an oppotunity to expand or diversify your selections down the road. 

Prior Business Experience

Having prior business experience can be a significant asset in starting your farm. You will find that many of the skills will transfer to your new business. At the same time you should be aware that agriculture has some unique aspects that will require learning some new ways of managing. 

Since you have some prior business management experience you should already be aware of where you will need extra help. In the meantime you will most likely want to spend your time and energy learning how to grow/produce a quality product at a commercial scale.

Basic Preparedness

A business plan is your key to success. It will provide a place where you can try out ideas and play around with concepts in a relatively risk-free environment. When your business plan is complete it will inform others and it will also keep you on track. It may seem like a lot of work but when it's done -- you'll be so glad you did it.
e.g. bookkeeping, marketing, human resource management
Giving yourself time to plan your business will increase your chance for success but it is also to be honest with yourself about the aspects of your life that limit the time you have available. We will suggest options based on your responses.
There are many ways to gain practical, hands-on farming experience but one of the most efficient is to work on a commercial farm in some capacity. Not only will you be able to learn some valuable skills, you will also have an opportunity to observe a commercial operation. This can give you some idea of what systems you would like to implement on your farm and what systems you might change on your own operation.


It is really important that you think carefully about your expectations regarding what the business should be returning to you in the way of income. There are many farm owners that are quite happy earning a supplemental income from their farm endeavors. Others need to show enough income to support their family. There is no "right" or "wrong" answer but it is important to plan your business in way that will meet your expectations.


Having land is important to most agricultural operations but keep in mind that buying land is not the only way to get started. There are many creative solutions to getting started in farming that do not require taking on a massive mortgage.
Leasing land is a very common way to get started in farming. You will want to make sure that you have a written lease agreement in place to protect all the parties from misunderstandings.
While family-owned land can be a great asset, it is very important to have the terms and conditions written out clearly in a lease agreement.
Moving a land-based business such as a farm can be a daunting experience. It is not impossible but it does require some planning.

Capital (Money and Credit)

There are a number of ways to finance your business. In most cases you will be looking at some combination of loans and personal investment.  
New farmers are often understandably reluctant to borrow money. Debt can be frightening, especially when it used improperly. While many farms get started from the owner's savings and do not have any startup debt it can be challenging to grow your business to a point of profitability without some type of borrowed capital. The important thing to understand is that debt is a tool -- used properly it can be a huge benefit. Misused however debt can be a disaster.<


Production skill is the heart of any farm business and there are a few considerations that you should be taking into account. First, in order to be competitive, you are going to have to learn how to raise/grow/produce your product(s) with great care to be sure that you can get a high-quality product to market at a cost that will appeal to the consumer and return some profit to you.
Flexibility is a key criteria in a sustainable business. Consumer preferences change, markets shift and new opportunities arise. Be careful not to be so focussed on your production that you fail to notice these changes.
Many new farmers are surprised to learn that producing commercially is really quite different than raising the same crop/animal for your personal use. Perhaps the biggest shift will be that you will need to pay a lot of attention to your profit margin. Secondly you will need to become much more efficient and you might not have time for all extra care that you lavish on the home garden. Finally, pests, diseases and natural disasters such as floods, draught, late/early freezes will take on a much more urgent role. Any of these incidents can wipe out a significant portion of your income. You will need to become an expert in planning, managing, assessing your risk, and having a backup plan.


Market research will help you determine what the demand is for your product(s), who your target customer is and what your competition is currently offering. 

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