Can anyone become a farmer?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by mtowncyclone13, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. diaclone

    diaclone Well-Known Member

    Apr 16, 2006
    +4,177 / 473 / -16
    Maybe look into fruit and vegetable production......not nearly as much land needed. But I don't know how much it would make...maybe organic would be good?
    • Agree Agree x 1
  2. weR138

    weR138 Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2008
    +5,159 / 250 / -1
    Holy **** this thread is a bummer. Thank God my parents left the farms. I've always felt a bit sad that my kids won't have memories of granddad's farm like I did but I sure am glad my father retired as an accountant instead of a broken farmer ground down by a profitless hardship...
  3. KennyPratt42

    KennyPratt42 The Legend
    SuperFanatic SuperFanatic T2

    Jan 13, 2017
    +932 / 25 / -0
    My two cents on a couple things:

    Grain farming by itself is rarely a 'full fime' job. The hours are crazy during planting and harvest seasons, but for most it doesn't add up to 2000 hours a year. Because of that I don't know any grain farmers (that aren't retirement age) that grain farming is all they do. With the other work they do though, most work well over the national average of hours in a year.

    Traditionally grain farming is an extremely tough business from a cash flow perspective. Very capital intensive with very modest ROI. The flip side is that it can work out well from an asset accumulation standpoint. There are a lot of farmers that later in life will be worth 7 or 8 figures. Market timing and extremely low cost of living usual are factors in that.

    If a person really wanted to get into grain farming their best bet would be to have another career first and buy some land at a time when the land market has softened. Then rent out their land to help make payments until they had enough equity built up (I can't imagine this being less than 10 years unless we're talking a very high income person). The only other way is some type of personal connection, either a family situation or a farmer that wants to be very helpful transitioning their farm to a younger person.
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Al_4_State

    Al_4_State Well-Known Member

    Mar 27, 2006
    Driftless Region
    +9,266 / 365 / -3
    This is honestly the best advice for an outsider wanting to get in.
    • Agree Agree x 5
  5. GTO

    GTO Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2014
    Ultra Fanatic T4
    North DFW, TX
    +26,077 / 522 / -6
    Here is all you need to learn (you can thank me later):

    • Funny Funny x 4
    • Like Like x 2
    • Winner Winner x 1
  6. Cy Hard

    Cy Hard Well-Known Member

    Jan 5, 2008
    The affairs of state
    Polka City
    +413 / 9 / -1
    Can’t believe no ones suggested buying 40 acres in Oregon and start growing pot. You’ll make a profit with little prior knowledge.;)
  7. Hoggins

    Hoggins Active Member

    Sep 2, 2019
    +864 / 104 / -18
    Not if you can’t pass a drug test. Oh. We are not doing that to welfare queens anymore?
  8. nfrine

    nfrine Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2006
    +3,356 / 129 / -4
    Just make sure you have enough room for the extra mailboxes you need for the government subsidiaries checks.:D
  9. Dopey

    Dopey Well-Known Member

    Nov 2, 2009
    +801 / 79 / -10
    There’s an accountant at work who is starting from nothing. He’s an accountant, and VERY financially disciplined. He cut crop farming, because it wasn’t going to pay. He’s focusing on cattle. He knows his expenses very very well. So when he sees a deal he can come out ahead on, he buys. He’s still working full time, and growing slow. But he works his ass off and I think he’ll be able to live off his hobby before he’s 40.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. bannedman

    bannedman Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2012
    that island napoleon got sent to
    +5,284 / 219 / -46

    Your best bet would prob be signing up for Iowa State BFC ( or Minnesota has a similar program.

    this basically puts in touch farms that do not have heirs and people who would love to farm.

    young man with wife. i think this puts u in good standing with a retiring farmer. some old lady with no kids/grandkids will want u guys 2 produce one. prob get a free baby sitter and a farm

    Just a thought. -im
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Clone83

    Clone83 Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2006
    +736 / 9 / -6
    It’s hard. One thing that would concern me is how dependent Iowa agriculture is on government subsidies, directly or indirectly, which get capitalized into the cost of land.

    If these were largely eliminated, which I believe they ought to be, that might open up some opportunities, some changes in production. If you stick with with crops more dependent on government programs, there is always the risk these will be scaled back. You might start small, like raising a garden or feeding a few calves, and learn more about things in the meantime. You might also save money and be prepared to buy some farm land if there were a major downturn, which you could rent.

    As others pointed out, it would be best to have a connection, such as to a retiring farmer. A lot of it is probably luck, no matter how hard you work, and most people are going in the opposite direction of that you are considering. Even if you had a big pile of capital to start, it is quite possible or even likely you wouldn’t be able to maintain it. You might gain on the value of the land but even that might depend on timing.

    High oil prices encouraged a new industry like fracking, meaning there is much less upside for an industry like ethanol, relative to a few years ago. Reading an Omaha World-Herald article awhile back on the logistics of moving the input required for cellulosic ethanol, something like turning rural landscape into a 24-hour a day industrial plant, made me pretty highly skeptical about that.

    I happened to see an interesting article yesterday about a San Francisco startup called Farmgirl Flowers, including competition she is facing now from domestic marijuana production. Leaving aside that comment, it is interesting her focus on the customer.
    There will probably always be a big market for corn and soybeans, but overproduction is a problem that is more the norm. You are young and might outlive it, but it is a problem particularly at the moment. Because there are a large number of producers, it is competitive, and the most profitable are generally larger, with a lower unit cost, spreading their costs over a larger output.

    Many also have an off-farm job.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  12. jdoggivjc

    jdoggivjc Well-Known Member

    Sep 27, 2006
    Publications Manager
    Macomb, MI
    +12,355 / 289 / -5
    who needs 40 acres in Oregon when you can buy an abandoned factory in Detroit for pennies on the dollar? Hydroponics, baby!
    • Informative Informative x 1
  13. cmjh10

    cmjh10 Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2012
    Iowa Falls
    +8,741 / 488 / -17
    Alfalfa is the way to go right now.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. intrepid27

    intrepid27 Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Executive Recruiter - Ag
    Marion, IA
    +2,668 / 82 / -3
    #34 intrepid27, Oct 21, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
    As stated many times above it would be VERY difficult to start as a traditional corn and soybean farmers. How ever, there are way more profitable crops to grow than corn and soybeans. If you lived near a metro area, growing for restaurants, farmers markets, and specialty stores can be lucrative.

    If/when hemp gets legalized there will probably be some good opportunities if you get in early. Someone earlier mentioned livestock. The Wagu and Kobe beef markets can be good.
    The key to growing ANY specialty crop or livestock is to Start with the relationship to whom ever you want to sell to and then produce exactly what they want.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. dafarmer

    dafarmer Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2012
    Duh- farming
    SW Iowa
    +1,385 / 72 / -8
    Lots of land and one daughter,
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  16. Bret44

    Bret44 Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2009
    Ag Ed Teacher
    Cedar River Valley
    +6,153 / 131 / -0
    Can you become a traditional grain farmer in Iowa? Probably not, but there are a lot of Niches to fill. If you can get yourself 5-10 acres you can grow some high labor vegetables and make it work if you have a 2nd job. Have some goats and make goat cheese, candles, and other stuff. Find a niche and fill it.
  17. bannedman

    bannedman Well-Known Member

    Aug 21, 2012
    that island napoleon got sent to
    +5,284 / 219 / -46

    can u also grow pot
  18. CyclonesMoney

    CyclonesMoney Active Member

    Sep 12, 2017
    +368 / 92 / -7
    I don’t know about the capital to get started but I think it’s expensive, but what I know.... from my in-laws, is that America will have a shortage of farmers because a lot of young people are moving to the city and just don’t want to do farming but would rather go into stuff like computing etc. The older generation is getting old and retiring. So it’s a good thing you are thinking about being a farmer. Don’t get discouraged, do a lot of digging and where there is a will, there’s a way. Good luck, you can do it.
  19. ISUTex

    ISUTex Well-Known Member

    May 25, 2012
    Rural U.S.A.
    +2,051 / 193 / -25
    • Useful Useful x 1
  20. RealisticCy

    RealisticCy Active Member

    Nov 2, 2014
    Ames, IA
    +1,209 / 39 / -3
    Is it possible: YES, it is possible but it will come with lots of risk, lots of work, and lots of sacrifice.

    What are the chances....: for your particular question, almost zero but only because of the "no experience" caveat. It would be like saying what would the chances be of starting and running a hedge fund with no experience in the stock market. My advice would be to start this whole process by acquiring as much experience as you can; go work for a crop farmer and see what that life entails. Ag education is great, but ag business is likely just as important. Get good at penciling out whether renting or buying land is the best option. Talk to an ag lender about options....

    There are programs that help out young farmers that want to get started (beginning farmer loans, beginning farmer center at Iowa State) but might not have the capital or connections. It's certainly easier to do if you have an in to some land and equipment.

    Long term success in any business comes from piling up good decisions over a long period of time, limiting your losses/risk/bad decisions, some amount of luck (particularly when the weather is so heavily involved in your business), staying up to speed on new technologies/practices that can increase efficiencies, and a lot of effort. I think the biggest hurdle is the amount of capital needed to get started from scratch.

Share This Page