Farming can be a hard life but it is a life that many people are interested in trying. In most cases, people who want to give farming a shot fall into two categories. The first are those who would love to farm but are overwhelmed by the prospect. The second are those that believe all they need to do is buy a plot of land and they will be an instant success. Both types have a point, and the reality is somewhere right in the middle.

Before anyone can begin farming there are certain necessities. These are land, capital, labor, equipment, and buildings. Part-timing farming is a good way to begin because you can gradually ease into full-time farming or decide that part-time farming is enough. As a part-time farmer you are able to derive the benefits of farming while keeping your day job.

Many people romanticize what it means to be a farmer without understanding all it entails. As with all professions there are pros and cons. The farm life provides a healthy way of life that can free you from the many stresses of urban living. It also can afford a family the chance to enjoy the wide open spaces. The air quality is much better in the country and the physical labor can help keep you in shape.

The farm life is not for everyone, though. Many people feel isolated and cut off from their friends. Further, if they are involved in activities away from the farm the travel time back and forth can be physically and financially draining. Finally, the realities of farm life can hit new farmers harder than a seasoned one. The death of livestock or a crop taken out by weather can seem like insurmountable setbacks.

If your farming plans are still in the infancy stage, take advantage of this time to do your homework and find out as much as you can about what it takes to own and/or run a farm. Here are some things that can help you decide if you want to continue on your journey:

  • Talk to farmers you know and get in touch with agricultural organizations. University extension education offices are a great place to start.
  • Think about your goals. What do you want to produce? How will you market your products?
  • If you are married or have children, make sure all are onboard for what can be a drastic change in lifestyle.
  • Without the support of your loved ones it will be next to impossible to make the big move from city to country.

If your dream is to be a farmer, by all means pursue that dream. After all, as most farmers will tell you, there is nothing quite like it. Before you make any major decisions, however, make sure you have done your homework so you will know what to expect from your new lifestyle.

Agricultural marketing brings with it unique challenges that you might not encounter when marketing to other industries. These challenges arise from the fact that farming is neither exclusively a lifestyle nor a business. Instead, it’s an ever-evolving combination of both. A true ag marketer understands these challenges and rises to meet them.

The agriculture industry deals with significantly more “unknowns” than other industries. These include a volatile marketplace that can change rapidly and without notice, burgeoning state and federal regulations, and the weather. Therefore, unlike other business owners the only certainty when it comes to marketing specifically to farmers is that what works this month or this year might not work next month or next year.

When it comes to making a sale, approval by committee takes on a whole new meaning when you are selling to farmers. Since most farms today are family-owned and multi-generational, there is seldom one decision maker. Instead there are several people that must approve a purchase or any other decision.

Farmers today are exceptionally savvy when it comes to technology. Overlook this fact and your marketing strategy is already dead in the water. Ag industry research repeatedly shows that high-acre farmers – and most other farmers as well – adopt mobile technology at a greater rate than the general population. This can be directly related to the fact that for years farmers have had to adapt to things like precision planting, fertilizer application, and grain yield monitoring. This has made them extremely comfortable with hardware and software, contrary to some stereotypes of farmers as “out-of-date.”

Farmers know full well how technology can aid in split-second decisions and that it is essential to managing long-term risks. Technology, including mobile apps, also provide farmers with an important edge when it comes to assessing profit margins and successfully managing risks. And since farms are often multi-generational, tech support is built in thanks to a younger generation that has been raised on technology.

If your ag marketing strategy does not include email campaigns, mobile apps, and social media, chances are farmers will write you off as “behind the times.” Remember, globalization and market volatility have forever changed the ag industry, and today’s farmers are skilled at using technology to deal with things like market fluctuations, futures, hedging, and trading.

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