Farmers || Future

A young farmer in Kentucky who has a chance to take over a 60-acre farm from his dad gets a range of advice over on an Agriculture.com discussion thread. Basically, the guy is wondering if it's worth his time to try to make that size of farm profitable. Wonder if anyone here would have additional thoughts?

Here's a link: 'Small farm'

John

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He has a real blessing to take over the family farm. Hold onto it and make it work. Make it a hobby while you work full time, diversify what you grow, rent out the land if you can't keep up. Make it work!!!
GOATS, chickens, apples, strawberries, rent it to the next guy, sometimes we would kill for 60 acres in one place, agree with Keith Baker.....what ever it takes.
There's gotten to be some good additional input over on that discussion thread about getting started on a small farm. A summary of some of the advice:

* "Management always pays better than labor."

* "You want to be sure of your market before you get married to any particular project."

* Get some old machinery bought at farm sales for little of nothing.... Get a good welder and torch so you can keep the old machinery going."

* "Sell hay to the horse industry. If you could average 100 bales(small square) per acre and price that at $3 or $4 per bale you are looking at $300-$400 per acre. With 60 acres that runs $18,000 to $24,000."

* "Always have crop insurance...always listen to the guys who have been in farming a while."

* "Don't forget to think about opportunity cost. Maybe you can make $250/acre, but if you can cash rent it out to another farmer for $150/acre, then you are really only making $100/acre more than you would not farming it."

* "Research specialty crops, like herbs, and look into cooperatives that you can join to increase availability to larger markets."

* Help a much bigger operator plant and harvest and in turn get help from that farmer to plant and harvest your farm.

* "Get a soil test FIRST. If you have good soil and the hills aren't to bad you could do very well with alfalfa or a mixed grass hay. Overall, hay will make you more money than any other cash crop. However, it must be GOOD hay.
Good alfalfa can run in excess of over $200.00 a ton. You're also in outstanding horse country, and that is a great market."

* Check for advice with custom operators, applicators and truckers, who see a lot of farms and get an impression of what people are doing that is working or not.

There's more interesting dialogue there. Would welcome further contributions.... --- John
If he is wondering if 60 acres is worth his time then maybe he is not cut out to farm in the first place. 60 acres is a place to start. What is he waiting for a 1000 acres to drop in his lap? If he can't make money on 60 acres then he can't make money with a 1000.
I would agree, hang on to it. Work a day job and use the farm profits to add to your land base and improve the land, or just keep it the same size and concentrate on specialty crops/markets that fit the 60 acre nitch. It all depends on your drive and ambition. I personally have full time farming on the brain, and every move I make and dollar I spend on the farm is with the intentions it will pay back and get me to the place of full time farming. No matter what you passion is (crops or livestock) you have to have a plan and vision to make it work (good lenders are an important part of the equation as well)!!!
I'm inclined to agree with Melissa. If you enjoy doing veg farming. I farm full time and my primary income comes from the vegetable end through a CSA and farmers market. I make up the rest in livestock. If you wanted to raise Livestock there is a huge demand right now for ASH (Antibiotic, Steroid, and Hormone) Free meat in the local food chain. Talk to restaurants or go to farmers markets, people pay a premium for a product that is local and that they now is going to be healthier. It is up to him so don't feel pressured by what anyone tells him he should do cause that each persons own oppinion, make the choice based on what you enjoy It's not farming if you hate what you do.
That is his decision alone. He may want some assistance to define his vision and to make it happen, however. There is much assistance available, including local Extension, and USDA agencies (FSA, NRCS, SCS, etc.).

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