Agriculture is exciting and rewarding, and as a farmer you wear many hats - this is especially true for a beginning farmer. Whether your focus is on livestock, grain, organic, traditional, or other aspects of agriculture, there are several important considerations within your first steps to farming. Beginning farmers not only need to focus on crops or livestock but also must develop a plan for growth, build a team of trusted advisors, and work on your business (not just in your business). Below are tips to help you get started.
Develop a Plan for Growth
- Borrowing vs. non-borrowing
- Most borrow but points apply for all
- Farm Financials
- Balance sheet - fill one out annually
- Cash flow projections vs. actuals
- Tax returns
- Risk Management
- Production risk (crops and livestock have controllable and non-controllable risks)
- Marketing risk (price risk and timing)
- Financial Risk (how the above risks affect you financially)
Build Your Team
- Members of your team may include an accountant, attorney, banker, extension/program specialist, etc.
- Spend time networking and grow your team
Work On Your Business Rather Than In Your Business
- Continue to learn - join industry groups and attend educational events
- Understand your business from all aspects - financial, legal, productivity, etc.
View video recordings from the Financing the Beginning Farmer event:
Steven Bohr from Farm Financial Strategies
Steven Bohr from Farm Financial Strategies discussed the various aspects of planning for the next generation and ultimately encouraged young people to “Oppor-Communicate” – communicate about the opportunities that may be presented in the future. Without communication it is difficult for operations to move forward efficiently and effectively.
Brian Waddingham from Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers
The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers has a wide variety of resources to help farmers with everything from identifying sites for livestock barns to developing positive neighbor relations. Brian Waddingham with the coalition explained they offer many resources to help farmers wade through the waters of regulations that Iowa farmers face. One of their focuses is on wind breaks around livestock barns to help reduce odors and provide screening making them more visually appealing.
Dr. William Edwards from the Iowa State University Beginning Farmer Center
The Iowa State University Beginning Farmer Center offers a variety of programs and resources for young farmers including Ag Link, a platform designed to match beginning farmers to retiring farmers in hopes of continuing to pass along farming operations to younger generations. Dr. Edwards also encouraged attendees to become involved in local agricultural based groups to network with peers. Your local extension office has information regarding the various groups at the state and local level.
View additional resources and opportunities available to beginning farmers:
- Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers: Opportunities for Beginning Livestock Farmers
- Farm Financial Strategies: Perfect Storm Brewing in Farm Succession
- Financing the Beginning Farmer by Hills Bank
- Iowa Agricultural Development Division: Beginning Farmer Loan and Tax Credit Programs
- Iowa State University Beginning Farmer Center
- Natural Resources Conservation Service: Beginning Farmer Programs