A Few Tips For Aspiring Farmers, Part One

The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.” — Will Roger

So, you are thinking about getting into the farming industry. 

We admire your mettle, for one thing. There are fewer and fewer “salt of the earth” folk these days it would seem. But whether you want to start a small farm or you have the means to do something more expansive in the agricultural industry, we at Wagner Equipment Co. have got a blog series just for you. In today’s post, part one of the two-part series, we’ll ask a few questions to make sure that you are thinking coherently about this business venture. 

We won’t mince our words; it’s vital that you do your research so that every move is intentional when you become a farmer. There’s no room for missteps or learning from your mistakes when the margins are as thin as they are. 

A bit harsh? Maybe. But it’s the reality. Here’s the good news: you are on the right path by reading this very blog! So give yourself a pat on the back and keep reading. We’ve got you covered at Wagner Equipment Co. We’ll help you figure out where you should start if you’ve never farmed before (let alone pick up a hoe). Let’s dive in!

What Are You Trying To Accomplish?

Let’s start with your motivation. There’s a big distinction to be made between farmers who need to be profitable to put food on the table and farmers who farm for fulfillment. We aren’t here to judge between the two; we are simply saying that whichever camp you fall into should determine a number of factors down the road. 

For instance, if you are farming for profit and livelihood, you are more likely to be concerned with selecting crops which will yield the most bang for your buck, so to speak. Conversely, if your primary goal is to live off the land self-sufficiently or have ethical farming motives, that’s a horse of a different color. 

There’s room for everyone at the table, and there’s certainly gray area between the two camps, as we put it. However, our no-nonsense recommendation is to be honest with yourself about how much money you will need to make in order to stay afloat — there’s not much use in being a sustainable, organic farmer if you can’t do it for more than a year.

If money is no object and all you want to do is start a hobby farm, good on you! We would advise that your tax implications will be much different than those who are operating business farms. Be sure to check out the fine print there so you don’t get burned down the road. 

So You’ve Never Farmed A Day In Your Life

Well, the first thing we’d say is that we admire your ambition! The second is that you had better know what you are getting yourself into. Agricultural jobs are dangerous, grueling, and tough to make money doing, to be completely frank. 

But it’s not impossible, don’t get us wrong. In fact, it’s part of who we are as humans. People from every civilization throughout history have been farming, to one extent or another, for longer than history itself! 

That said, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a successful farmer who didn’t learn from other successful farmers. Whether it was from their folks or someone else, no one really just figures out how to farm independently. That’s just not a thing. The fact is, most farming skills are passed on from generation to generation, whether we are talking about commercial farming or small-time operations.

That’s why we recommend you get some real-world farming experience before buying some random plot of land in East of Limon. If you want to really be successful in the agricultural industry, you’d best humble yourself and learn from those who know how to do it. 

So, our main tip is to have some respect for the industry, the field, and learn from those who have come before you. Put in your time and you’ll reap the dividends down the road. Or, if you want us to be even triter, you reap what you sow in the farming game. 

How To Learn

Now we aren’t suggesting that you go work at a coffee plantation of Columbia for 36 months to pay your poetic dues (although that doesn’t sound like the worst thing to do with your life by any means). Rather, we might suggest dedicating yourself to research and networking. It might be at your local farmer’s market or it might be through another avenue — just get out there and learn everything there is to know about your selected niche. 

Take Dr. Cindy Jones for example. She fast-tracked her learning by not only reading everything there is to read about herbs (she’s a biochemist and an herbalist), but she also was an active gardener and an even more active networker. “We came into farming with no background other than gardening and learned that farming is much different. We have learned a lot just from doing, networking, and talking to other farmers. We do a farmers market each Saturday during the summer so have met other farmers that way,” Cindy said in a BPlans article

Cindy used this mixed approach to learn on-the-fly. She started her own skin care product business through learning from her peers and practicing the lessons learned in her own backyard.

Much of what I have learned has been from fellow lavender growers who are quick to share what works and doesn’t work for them. The United States Lavender Growers Association was founded specifically to help growers. I am one of the founding members of this group and we have many opportunities for sharing and learning through USLGA. Each year we extend our growing area slightly and each year we learn more about what we are doing. Someday we’ll get it right!

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Consider Wagner Equipment Co.

We hope part one has given you enough to mull over until we find a bit of time to write the second blog of this two-part series. If you have one takeaway from today’s blog, we hope it’s the following: farming is hard but not impossible, but you better make sure you learn from those who do it right. 

For our part at Wagner Equipment, we have new and used ag machines for every need: 

We set the standard in our industry by providing high-quality farming equipment for sale or rent. Our AGCOproduct line is based on our increased focus on customer success. Plus, we offer the best distribution and product support systems in any capital goods industry. 

Not sure what all that means? Sounds like you have some research to do between now and part two, so get on it! Be sure to reach out to us at Wagner Equipment Co. if you have any questions. We’d love to hear from you!

Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.” – Daniel Webster