How to Be a Farmer


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 season."

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 | Tips

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 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."

First Steps

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.

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