How to Be a Farmer
By Steve Gillman
If you love to work with the land and can think long-term,
you might want ot learn how to apply the latest green agricultural
techniques so you can be a farmer. Traditional practices still
work, but more consumers will be asking for organic produce in
the future, and more environmental regulations will limit what
farmers can do. Get ahead of the curve!
It is true that the family farm is not as common as it used
to be. It is even true that the number of self-employed farmers
is expected to continue falling in the coming years. But agricultural
managers are projected to gain jobs, and it is likely that specialty
farming will see more growth as well.
What is the work like? Tough at times, and the hours can be
long. According to the BLS, "Farmers and farm managers who
grow produce and perishables have different demands on their
time depending on the crop grown and the season. They may work
very long hours during planting and harvesting season, but shorter
hours at other times. Some farmers maintain cover crops during
the cold months, which keep them busy beyond the typical growing
Farming is also no longer something learned from family. An
associate degree or bachelor's degree at a college of agriculture
is becoming increasingly important, especially if you want to
start as an employee. Certification as an Accredited Farm Manager
(AFM) by the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers
can help as well.
This may be an ideal time to get started in farming, by the
way. The average age for the two million farmers in the country
right now is 55 years old. There will be tens of thousands retiring
annually over the coming years, so demand for farm mangers and
farm products will be growing.
How Much Can You Make?
If you start on the job as, wages are not great. The most
recent figures from the BLS show that farm workers average $24,040
annually. Get some education and call yourself an agricultural
manager and you can expect to double that. Owning the farm, while
the riskiest way to be in the industry, can be the most profitable
way as well. Farm households' average total income averaged about
$85,000 in recent years according to the USDA, and some farms
do far better than that.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
There are always other income sources to explore as the woner
of a farm. You can branch into specialty crops or raise milk
animals, for example. You can even check into the potential of
leasing land for wind turbines.
Qualifications / Requirements
These electrical generators do not take much space, and according
to windustry.org you are typically paid "$2,500 to $5,000
per turbine, $3,000 to $4,000 per megawatt of capacity, or 2-4%
of gross revenues."
Decide if you want to start on the job at the low end or go
to school and aim for higher wages or profits.
Center for Rural Affairs - This site has some
great information, and the organization helps connect beginning
farmers with those who are retiring.