How to Become a Farmer
Last week, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a large-scale program The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development, whose goal is to prepare a new generation of American farmers. Millions of dollars are planned to be spent on popularizing the farmer’s profession and providing all kinds of assistance to beginning agricultural workers.
The USDA does not hide the fact that there are a catastrophic shortage of farmers in the United States and the state will do everything possible so that people move into the outback of the country, buy ranches and large areas of land.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of farmers will decrease by 19% in the period from 2015 to 2022, which will lead to a food crisis and the rise in prices of products. Meanwhile, the average farm income in the country is $ 69,300. This is a very good amount, given that such businessmen in most cases live in their own homes (that is, they do not pay rent or mortgage).
“Agriculture is an area that will always generate income,” said labor market analyst Jeb Halley. – The population of the country is increasing. Food demand is growing. The cost of farms and ranches is at an all-time low. Moreover, for many people, the purchase of agricultural land is a way to start a new life, leave the bustling city and start working for yourself. ”
Currently, 73% of farmers work for themselves and do not depend on anyone. This profession is considered one of the most promising among immigrants, as nearly a third of visitors have experience in the fields. Another indisputable plus is education, or rather its absence. Many successful businessmen do not even have a high school diploma.
“Today, about 40,000 farms and ranches are sold on the American market at prices ranging from $ 5,000 to $ 10 million,” says Ernest D., an agricultural infrastructure sales specialist. – On average, a good farm consisting of a dwelling house, barns, a dozen other buildings and at least 20 acres of land costs about $ 130,000. It’s smaller than a tiny apartment in New York or Chicago. ”
According to Ernest, today, farms and ranches are bought by all kinds of people – from retirees who dream of living away from civilization to young workaholics.
“One of my clients were three Guatemalans who won the green cards,” says the specialist. “In just six months of washing up in Manhattan, they saved up $ 60,000 and bought an 18-acre farm in Kentucky.” A year later, these guys earned nearly half a million dollars on selling chicken. There are many similar stories. ”
According to Ernest’s words, success in the agricultural business depends solely on hard work. Many farmers get up at 5 am and work until 7 pm. They do not hire workers and do all the black work on their own.
How to understand the principles of the agricultural business? This is indicative of the story of New Yorker Will Jones, who, after a divorce from his wife and loss of work, firmly decided to start a new life.
He never worked in the outback and had a brilliant legal background. However, the “farmer romance” always fascinated him.
“I flew to Idaho and found a job on a potato farm the very first day,” Jones recalls. – A friendly businessman paid me $ 50 a day plus free food and lodging. I did not spread about my past, pretending to be an ordinary mechanic. For three months of work, I had before my eyes a complete picture of how the potato business works. I became a PhD in the potato industry. ”
After quitting his job, Jones, who, during his time as a lawyer, managed to save almost half a million dollars, bought a huge potato farm, hired workers and turned it into a profitable business. The experience gained during the work in the fields, he considers invaluable.
“Many people who dream of becoming farmers, imagine themselves sitting on a rocking chair in front of a huge field with a bottle of beer in their hands,” argue Jones. – They have no idea about agriculture, but they are sure that they will succeed. My advice to you is to work first at least three months on someone else’s farm. It is possible that you will hate this job. ”
Now about the most important thing. In modern US agriculture, there is an unusual trend. Beginning farmers are increasingly moving away from growing popular crops such as corn, soybeans and potatoes, preferring to produce something exotic and in small quantities.
Here it is worthwhile to dwell on the history of the Californian Frank Lee, who bought a tiny farm in Iowa. His plot worth $ 12 thousand was located in the midst of immense corn fields.
“Farmers laughed at me and said that on the cob, I would not even earn hundreds of dollars a month,” recalls Lee. – However, I was not going to grow corn. My task was to produce shiitake and oyster mushrooms, which a year after the purchase of land brought a million dollars in profits. ”
The most interesting thing that Lee had only theoretical experience of growing mushrooms. He read a dozen books, watched several educational films and talked a lot with mushroom pickers over the Internet.
Mushrooms are one of the most profitable farm products. For example, the oyster harvest is 25 pounds per year per square foot. If we consider that the retail price of a pound of these mushrooms, on average, is $ 7, then from a small space of 10 by 10 pounds you can earn $ 17,500.
“The most difficult thing is to settle all the legal formalities in the early stages of the farm,” says Lee. – In addition to the USDA, there are a number of federal, state and city authorities seeking to prohibit or issue a fine. You have to keep all inspectors under control in order to stay in business. ”
The only worker on Lee’s mushroom farm is the 25-year-old son Jacob. His duties include selling mushrooms over the Internet. He spins the product on social networks, sells large supermarkets and small shops.
“Knowledge of the Internet is a huge advantage for new farmers over hereditary farmers,” says Jacob. – Many businessmen living in the outback, do not use the Internet and do not even have a computer. They have regular customers and they are not interested in new ones. They even have no idea how to get going at the expense of Internet farming. ”
Jacob is absolutely right. If desired, the agricultural business can be promoted even on Facebook, where there are many groups of fans of different products – from mushrooms to beef steaks. In addition, the possibilities of modern mail are not limited. If desired, for example, fresh beef chops can be sent in a special container to Alaska or the Hawaiian Islands. In certain situations, it is even profitable.
Mushrooms belong to the list of goods that bring about $ 50 thousand annually from one acre of land. An acre, however, is practically worthless in the outback state. In Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma or Arkansas, such a microscopic farm with an old house can be purchased for $ 10 – $ 15 thousand.
So, besides mushrooms, the most profitable crops are:
Lavender. Used in the manufacture of soap, incense, bouquets and funeral wreaths. So, in California, there was a case when a former co-worker started a lavender business.
Spring Pussy Willows. These woody plants are popular with florists, as well as room designers. Some varieties of willow are so unpretentious that the crop can be harvested all year round.
Thuja. Rapidly gaining popularity dwarf tree, which is used for landscaping facades and lawns. One sprout costs about a dollar. After 24 months, the tree is ready for sale at a price of at least $ 10 – $ 15. Plus you can add a tidy sum for a plastic pot and delivery.
Bonsai (Bonsai Plants). One of the most scarce plants on the market. Outwardly, it looks like a full-fledged maple, reduced to half a meter in size. I am sure that every resident would like to have a similar beauty at home. The price of the simplest and inconspicuous bonsai is $ 30. The most beautiful specimens are sold for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
Willow. Luxurious, beautiful and fast growing tree. Willow saplings are sold at $ 7 per pound and are in great demand by woodworking companies that supply boards to furniture manufacturers.
Elephant Garlic. Personally, I learned what “elephant garlic” was last week when I bought one head of this amazing product for $ 5 in an American supermarket. The taste is incomparable and is cut very conveniently. One slice is comparable to apricot. In good soil, the crop is 15 thousand pounds per acre. The profit is obvious.
Herbs. The cultivation of various herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes has increased over the last decade by 20%. A small jar of loose spices costs at least $ 3 in stores. If you grow herbs wisely and process them appropriately (dry, chop, mix), you can easily become a millionaire.
Bamboo. Chinese immigrants have long since established bamboo production in the south of the country, as the demand for this plant is constantly increasing. Bamboo is made furniture, furnishings, souvenirs and much more. If you offer a good price, then the wholesale buyer can be found quite easily.
Ginseng. One of the most useful products in modern agriculture. According to Chinese philosophy, it prolongs life and youth. You can sell ginseng in a variety of forms – raw, dried, pickled, salted, grated, etc. If you take to grow an organic and environmentally friendly product, then do not sell it for less than $ 50 per pound.
Finally, it should be said that in the United States there are more than a hundred farming organizations that in every possible way help beginning agricultural businesses.
Moreover, under pressure from the USDA, banks began to willingly give loans to buy a farm or ranch, as well as approve the business plans of novice but ambitious farmers.
In general, everything goes to returning America the former glory of a country that has a developed and independent market for its own food.