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Farming is much like any business. The profits made can relate to many factors including the size of operation and personal attributes of the business owner. Any business is subject to external factors that can make a particular year more or less profitable. For farmers, weather and the cost of labor are big factors that influence their business outcomes. Also each person will have different expectations of what an acceptable level of income is. Some people require very little income and have full and satisfied lives. Other people may have needs and wants that require a higher wage.
A recent research study we conducted through a project called AgTeen, 116 farm families in Georgia self-reported their farm income. The average annual farm income was between $50,000 - $59,000. Average total annual household income was reported between $70,000 - $89,000 (work outside of the farm supplemented income). Twenty-eight percent of the respondents were very experienced farmers and reported farm income of well over $100,000. However, these incomes may not be realistic when you first start farming.
If you are new to farming it may be best to start small and expand as your skills and confidence increase. In many areas there are mentor programs available that allow you to work directly with an experienced farmer. For instance, Georgia Organics offers a great mentor program. However, a mentor can be anyone that is an experienced farmer and willing to let you learn their trade. So find out who is successful at the type of farming you want to do and see if they will let you volunteer on their farm.
Are you ready to start exploring if farming is right for you? Here are some good first steps:
Challenges New Farmers Face
Small Farm Decision Making and Enterprise Planning Workbook
Finding Land to Farm
Guide to FSA Farm Loans
Attend agricultural fairs and workshops in your area. In Georgia, we recommend attending the Sun Belt Expo in Moultrie Georgia and the Georgia Organics Conference. Both offer a wide variety of workshops and give you the opportunity to talk to other farmers. This will help determine what commodities are currently trending for higher financial yield.
Try to find a mentor in the commodity areas in which you are interested. Nothing beats learning directly from someone who has first hand experience,
Go on farm tours and attend farmers markets. You will see things you will want to incorporate into your farm and different marketing strategies.
Remember, the Farm Again staff are here to help! If you are a person with a disability we can identify additional resources to make your farm accessible and possibly offset some of the start-up expenses for your new farm. So contact us to get started. If you do not live in Georgia, we can guide you to resources in your state. If you are a veteran, the great folks at Farmer Veteran Coalition are there to assist you as well.
We hope to see you farming soon!