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Starting and maintaining a profitable small farm is not easy. Sure, you get to be your own boss and set your own hours (at least in theory), but that usually means responding to buyer demands and dealing with changing market conditions, all while waking up early and going to bed late.
How To Make Agriculture Profitable
In other words, your life as a farmer is less Instagram-worthy and more miserable than it seems to people outside the business. After all, a farm is still a business, and the same business start-up rules apply, plus additional farm-specific responsibilities.
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The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities to keep doing what you’re doing and generate additional small farm income. For example, farming and agrarian lifestyles are receiving a lot of attention, especially among nature-hungry city dwellers and white-collar workers. It is a potential market that can be tapped. Also, as consumer tastes change and evolve, you’ll have the opportunity to switch to new small farm business ideas, even on a limited acreage.
We look at some small farm business ideas that you can get, or that can inspire you to find your own small farm business idea. Some rely on trending crops and other outside ideas to take your working farm to another level of profitability. We also explore some business loan options to help turn these small farm ideas into reality.
Small farm business ideas can be very varied: some may be aimed at lifestyle services, while others may be an extension of a small farm you already run. Here are some small farm income ideas that may resonate with different audiences.
The nature of events – specifically weddings – is changing. In 2017, the average cost of a wedding was over $30,000, an unreal amount for many. This is why couples are looking for alternative ways to celebrate their weddings that are cheaper than big event weddings. More conventional spaces, such as small farms, can provide this. There is also a trend called “micro weddings”, an express way for couples to have a big wedding.
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As a profitable small farm business idea, consider an event space or wedding venue that allows couples to celebrate their wedding at an affordable price. You can offer some of these micro-wedding packages, for example, which will attract couples, or you can rent your venue at a competitive price compared to other venues in your area.
If this interests you, check out our guide on how to start a wedding venue. You can choose to go in a different direction for a few steps, but it can be a great base to see if this small farm income idea is right for you.
If you’re interested in small acreage farming ideas, consider growing hops for local breweries. With the explosion of craft beer in almost every corner of the country, there is a lot of beer being produced, and a lot of hops to go into that production.
The good news is that you don’t need a lot of space to grow hops: hop vines grow very densely, so you can plant about 1,200 plants in one hectare of land. In addition, you can grow many types of hops, such as common cascade or century hops, as well as many other non-proprietary hop varieties, e.g. A word of warning, though: hop plants tend to produce more crops after a few seasons, so don’t expect massive harvests right away.
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It’s not all bad news, however, as many hop growers work with advance contracts, meaning they’ll buy all of the next season’s crop a year or two in advance. So this is a small farming business idea that can work not only now but also for years to come.
Also, as craft breweries and distilleries continue to expand across the country, there is a growing interest in using grains from small local producers. As you may already know, most grains and malts are produced on a commercial scale in North America. And while these grains are still the most common choice for most brewers and distillers, local demand for malted wheat and barley is growing.
Some states, like New York, even offer tax breaks for breweries to convert to a farm brewery. On the other hand, these breweries must use a certain percentage of ingredients grown in the state. This means you can take advantage of the trend, as well as subsidy programs, by setting aside some farmland for these crops and building relationships with local trading partners.
Hands-on learning is important for children, and creating a didactic farm can help in this development. Consider creating a teaching farm where you can give tours, classes and workshops about your farm animals and farming, and encourage groups to learn about farm life.
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You can go even further and create vocational opportunities for students to learn on your farm during the summer or school breaks. If you’re going this route to building an educational farm, remember that it’s important to let educational organizations know that you offer these services. Along the same lines, this small farm idea makes the most sense for farms that are close enough to schools that they are a viable destination.
We probably don’t need to tell you that the vacation rental business is booming. Services like VRBO and Airbnb have made it relatively easy for travelers to book a trip. (For perspective, Airbnb says 2 million people stay overnight.) That’s a huge potential market to tap.
Consider building a tiny house or cabin on your property to rent. Yes, it is an investment to create a new structure. But if you’re running your new small business within a business, it may pay off, especially if you care to check the market and prices for similar rentals in your area.
Even if you think that your farm life is not very exciting, especially for city dwellers, many people try to spend a few days away from the fast pace and relax in nature. This is especially true if you’re only a few hours from the city center and you can offer fun extras like a home-cooked breakfast with fresh produce from your own farm to bring people over.
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Bees are important because, in addition to making honey, they pollinate many of the crops we eat every day (including the ones you grow). With the constant collapse of bee colonies and a significant decline in bee numbers, saving bees is critical to our ecosystem. But this ecological activity can also be a profitable small farm business idea.
Beekeeping can open up a variety of income streams. First, you can sell honey and beeswax products at a farm store or online. Many local merchants may be willing to carry your products as well. But you can also take advantage of the newfound interest in beekeeping and bee farms by offering tours, classes and other experiences.
Importantly, beekeeping is an excellent option for small farms, as the hives do not take up much space. This is evidenced by the rise of urban beekeeping, where people keep entire hives on the roofs of buildings.
You have to decide which small farm idea you want to pursue, and then find the capital to start it up. Fortunately, you have options, especially if you’ve been in business for a while and are creating a new source of income for your small farm. Some of the ideas we’ve listed above are much more capital intensive than others, but luckily there are a variety of agribusiness loans to get you moving.
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If you’ve already been in business for some time and have done well with your income numbers (and then maintain a solid credit score), the first place you’ll want to look for financing for your small farm business idea is the SBA. loans . This is because these loans are considered the best because of their high rates, long repayment period and high equity amount.
SBA loans are made by banks, often even small community banks like yours, but most importantly they are guaranteed by the US Small Business Administration (SBA). This means that lenders have a safety net in case borrowers are unable to repay the loan, so they can extend favorable terms to qualified borrowers.
Of course, as you might expect, these loans are competitive – which is why the part we mentioned about a strong financial history is important. But if you have good experience
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