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Are you ready to buy a farm 5 questions to ask yourself

Are you ready to buy a farm? 5 questions to ask yourself... reveal the questions any potential farmer should ask themselves before heading for the hills

There’s something romantic about the idea of going back to the simple life and running a farm. But the truth is, there’s nothing simple about farming in today’s economy or environment.

As farmer and authorRebecca Thistlethwaite tells Modern Farmer, the idea of “sitting in a lawn chair, overlooking the pasture, raising a glass of wine” is simply a dream. But if that field of dreams is still calling you, how do you answer?

Here are five questions to ask yourself before buying a farm:

1. Do you have the skills it takes to run a farm?

More than being an early riser, being a farmer requires good business skills. You’ll need to be good at managing money, paying the bills, purchasing and selling equipment and goods, as well as hiring and managing employees.

Farmers need to know their crops and the area they are going to be involved with inside and out. It’s no surprise that farming is hard work, in fact one that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So having a strong work ethic is essential, as well as the ability to be flexible in unstable economic conditions at times. 

2. Are you sure you want to run a farm?

The first step in deciding if you want to trade in your loafers for work boots is to spend time working on a farm. Many small farms accept apprentices for a growing season. These apprentices learn planting, harvesting, weeding, feeding animals and collecting eggs among other farm skills. But one season in the fields won’t cut it. Thistlethwaite suggests apprenticing for three to four years before even considering to start or buy your own farm.

There are also a handful of “farm schools” around the globe. Students will get bonus lessons such as foraging and wildflower cuisine, but with a price tag of up to $18,000, it can be a pricey education if you aren’t sure it’s the right path for you. 

3. Should you lease or buy land?

New farmers are often advised to lease before they buy land. It’s a good way to try farming out before buying in completely, but the grass isn’t always greener. Lessees are subject to the whims and regulations of their landlords, and 88% of those landlords are not farmers themselves, according to the National Young Farmers Coalition. 

4. What land is available?

Here lies a bit of a problem for would-be farmers. Farmers need to be near a populated area in order to be able to sell their products. However, the USDA reports farmland prices doubled from 2000 to 2010 with land near desirable cities costing more than before.  Thistlethwaite says the key is finding land near cities that could use more farms nearby such as Mobile, Alabama, Lawrence, Kansas or Boise, Idaho.

5. How will you finance your farm? 

The cost of farming is not just the expense of the land, but also includes equipment ranging from hand tools to tractors. Since farming is seen as a risky venture, traditional banks may not lend to a new farmer. However, if you are turned down by three banks, you could qualify for a loan from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency which provides loans of up to $300,000 for prospective farmers. There are also local nonprofit organizations who can help provide creative financing options. Contact your local ag extension office to check what is available in your area. 

Farming certainly isn’t for everyone, but with the steady increase in the number of smaller, community supported agriculture (CSA) farms growing here in the U.S., there are lots of people trying it out. These five questions should provide some food for thought on whether you are ready to take the next steps to buying a farm. 

For more information on buying and running a farm, check out our farming content section here.

Still interested? Take a look at our farms for sale at

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Andrea Miller

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