Whatever some Americans imagine, the evidence is clear that farming is not a vanishing way of life. To many, this is a fine time to get into the farming business, and the USDA offers critical resources in taking the first step.
Forbes Magazine says farming is alive and well
A Forbes article recently pointed out common myths about farming, writing that:
- U.S. farms net a healthy average income of 20%.
- Nearly 36% of U.S. farmers are women.
- U.S. farms create only 9% of the U.S. carbon footprint and may soon become carbon negative.
- U.S. farmland is still 95% family-owned.
- Farmers rent about 40% of U.S. farmland.
USDA helps farmers think through their first steps
In many ways, their “to do” list is like that of any other businessperson beginning a new venture.
First, a business plan to define your vision
This step lines up your imagination with the math of a real farming business. How much money will the startup take? How can you make your costs and your income add up to a profit? How will you grow your business?
Next, reaching out
In business, reaching out for help is a fundamental skill. The experience and advice of others is also basic farm equipment. Formed under President Lincoln, the USDA has seen some tough cases, and it designs programs to help farmers succeed.
Then, officially make your farm a business
Some find the USDA’s next step less fun than others.
But a business is a structure made of laws. And when you make the right decisions today, you might find yourself appreciating the beauty of being, say, a sole proprietorship instead of an S corporation (or vice versa).
Whether choosing a name for the business, setting up a workers’ compensation plan or getting the right permits, doing it right the first time makes every step that comes after easier.
Making it rain
Financing is the USDA’s final “first step.” Land, equipment, seed, buildings and utilities all take financial assets. Many involve contracts and other tools of the legal trade.
The USDA has long experience guiding new farmers to sources of seed money and explaining how they can make the best use of them.