Field Notes Blog > Ten Tips to Help You Return to the Farm

  • Ten Tips to Help You Return to the Farm

    January 21, 2019

    Farmers are aging and young people are looking to return back to the farm more than ever right now.  I have the ability to talk with many young farmers and most are just trying to figure out how to make their dreams into reality.

    Here are the top 10 tips to get back on the farm.

    1.  Live modest, create a budget and know your cost of living.
    2.  Go and work somewhere else besides your farm. Go to a different state, even if it is only for a week externship! The more experience you bring back to the farm the more valuable you are, to yourself and business partners.
    3. Express your interest in returning to the farm. Your parents or relatives may not even know you are interested or how serious you are until you have that conversation. Along those same lines, if you do return to the farm be sure to have clear picture of your duties and what the long term expectations are.
    4. Invest your money. Create a retirement account. Every little bit counts!
    5. Be open to having more than one source of income other than just the farm. If you are married, many spouses work off the farm to help provide extra money for family expenses, or to provide health insurance.
    6. There are many unknowns in farming, so it is good to have at least four-to-eight months of cash saved as a reserve.  Farming is the fourth most dangerous job. So it is not a matter of if you will get hurt on the farm but when and when it happens it will be important to have a cash reserve to pay bills. You may also want to get a life insurance policy if you don’t already have one.
    7. Stop looking at other farmers and being upset that you are not driving the brand new tractor. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your farm empire, just have patience. Only compare yourself to yourself. Did you improve from the prior year? A good place to start is by completing a year-end balance sheet on December 31st to see your progress. Visit our website to get started on yours!
    8. Debt.  Having excess debt can be a limiting factor when thinking about getting into such a capital intensive business. Some debt includes, student loans, trucks, tractors, mortgages and credit card debt. However, if your goal is to eventually return to the farm and farm full-time, start setting your goals now! You can pull your credit to see what debt is showing against you.  Save this with your balance sheet and use it as a yearly review to see how much progress you have made from the year before!  To request your credit report online visit:  https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp
    9. Time Management. Much like a financial budget, budget your time and utilize your time in the most impactful way. Create a priority list.
    10. Never stop learning. Lifelong learners will be more successful. Write your goals down because you will be more likely to accomplish them if you write them down and keep them visible.

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