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October 18, 2016

Working the Land: Part-Time Farming is Big Business

Small farms are collectively a vital part of our economy as they make up a large part of our farming community, and there are definitely opportunities for working the land and going into business as a part-time farmer.

Getting yourself a suitable vehicle such as the Ram 1500 will help you to comfortably fulfill some regular tasks like towing heavy loads like animal feed, but what else is involved if you decide that you want to get into farming?

An increasing trend towards part-time farming

If you think that you have to commit to working the land on a full-time basis in order to make it pay, you may be surprised to discover that there are an ever-increasing number of part-time farmers around, who have more than one source of income.

If you look at the figures in the U.S for example, the last survey carried out eight years ago by the U.S Census of Agriculture reported that some 1.2 million of the 2.2 million principal farm operators reported that they derived their primary income from something other than farming.

Some 60% of farms have annual sales revenues that are under $10,000 and one in three farmers now have a job outside of traditional farming activities.

These figures and trends might suggest that farming is a difficult industry to make a living from, but what these numbers are actually telling you is that there is a real lifestyle opportunity to work the land on a part-time basis and enjoy all that this offers, whilst also deriving an income from other sources.

Pros and cons to being a part-time farmer

As you might expect, there are definitely some pros and cons attached to the idea of becoming a part-time farmer.

Being a part-time farmer does open up the possibility of creating a healthy outdoor lifestyle for you and your family and could also be a great way of becoming relatively self-sufficient.

Some of the disadvantages could be that the isolation may not be suitable, especially if you are used to an urban existence up to now. You also need to be prepared for the potential loss of your crops or animals, which is always a potential scenario that that the farming industry has to face on a regular basis.

Making it pay

As with any business opportunity, you need to be able to demonstrate to yourself and anyone that you are asking for financial support from, that you can make your farming project pay.
Having a farming background or gaining some educational qualifications on aspects of farming that you are going to pursue, such as growing crops, will help you to get the funding you might need to buy and then run your small farm.

Diversification is a big topic in farming, where existing farmers have looked at other ways to use what they have already go in order to generate an income that is not primarily from working the land.

Starting your own bed and breakfast or even turning one of your fields into a regular campsite, are just two ideas that have financial merits and could allow you to pursue your dream of becoming a farmer, if it is a part-time one.

About the Author: Patrick Williams has a smallholding which he runs alongside his wife and children. Patrick comes from a farming family and could not turn his back on the way of life completely. He writes about farming, smallholdings and living off the land.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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