The cost of owning a farm is something to seriously consider before throwing yourself into the lifestyle. To help break down the major things that you’ll need to keep in mind, here is everything you need to know about the cost of ownership before buying a farm.
Consider What You Want
The cost of owning a farm can be steep and you don’t want to start creating a farm that you can’t sustain or don’t enjoy working on. For example, are you just looking to start a small hobby farm or raise a handful of animals or do you want to start something larger, such as a dairy farm, cattle farm, or crop farm? Knowing what you want before investing in a farm can help make the cost of owning a farm more manageable, as you’ll be able to plan further for the things you’ll need.
If you decide to start a hobby farm with a couple of animals or vegetables for your family, you may be able to provide more for yourself, while using extra to make a small profit at farmer’s markets and the like. However, even smaller hobby farms can have significant costs, especially if you’re planning on raising animals.
For instance, even chickens, which are relatively inexpensive to buy, need feed, water, and a large enough coop to be able to lay, roost, and stay safe at night. This is a cost of owning a farm that cannot be avoided, and you don’t want to skimp on these things because it can impact the care of your animals.
If you are raising larger animals, such as horses, you will also need to consider investing in a large barn and shavings for horse stalls to ensure safety and comfort. Additionally, since horses need ample room for exercise, you may need to work with local wood fence companies to install paddocks around your property.
That said, if you’re looking to make farming your main occupation, you can expect the costs of owning a farm to increase exponentially, as you will need to invest in much more. While running a larger farm can be a great source of income, crop farmers can often struggle more than cattle farmers, as they are much more at the mercy of the weather. A drought can quickly reduce the number of viable crops you can grow, whereas as long as you’re able to provide your cattle with water, food, and medical treatment, they will largely be fine in most conditions.
When it comes to farming for a living, you will need to do extensive research before making the transition, and if you don’t have farm experience firsthand, you may want to consider mentoring from a professional farmer in your area who can help you navigate everything that goes into running a successful farm.
Remember That Farming Is Hard Work
While the cost of owning a farm is considerable, you also need to remember that you will have to work very hard to make your investment worth it. Even in smaller hobby farms, you can expect to need to spend a good amount of your time tending to your crops or animals.
If you know that you’re taking on more than you can handle yourself, you should consider hiring farm management to help to ensure that everything that needs to get done gets done. You don’t want to end up wasting your investment by overworking yourself to the point where you cannot reap what you sow.
Pick Your Property Carefully
If you’re going to be investing in a property when starting your farm, there are some things that you’re going to want to be aware of. For example, trees may provide a great source of shade. However, they can pose a threat during summer storms, and mowing around them will take more time out of your day when maintaining the property. This is something to consider, as you don’t want a large branch or whole tree to come down during a storm and ruin your hard work.
In addition to this, having a water feature on your property, either a running stream or a large pond or lake, can also be something to look for, as it can help provide a constant source of water if you have animals. While this may not seem too important, since many farms have wells on the property, most of these are electric, and in the event of a power outage or electrical failure, you can end up without access to water until the electrical repair is complete. Having a water feature on your property and a manual pump or generator-powered one can help keep your animals watered even if your well isn’t working.
If your farm is going to be in a rural location, being prepared for power outages is important since they often experience more and longer outages than those in suburban or city areas.
Wells and Septic Systems
Most farms aren’t connected to municipal water treatment lines and instead rely on private wells and septic systems. It’s important to make sure that these two things are in good condition before purchasing your farm, as needing to replace these can increase the cost of owning a farm steeply. If you do end up purchasing a place that needs a new well or septic system, you can end up paying an additional $5000 to $20,000 depending on how much work needs to be done.
Consider the Location
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to the cost of owning a farm and the type of farm you want to create is the location. Some areas will cost more than others, and the price of farmland per acre has risen by 4.5% over the last 20 years, now averaging about $4,442 per acre as of 2020. The amount of land that you need impacts the cost of owning a farm greatly, and because of this, you will need to think critically about how much you need and where you can find the best deals.
Main Roads and Busier Areas
Depending on the type of farm you are looking to start, you’re going to have to decide whether or not you want a property nearby to busier areas and main roads or further out in quieter areas with less traffic.
The perks of being near main roads can be especially impactful for smaller hobby farms, as it can give you access to more people to sell your extra vegetables too. If you have animals, you could even consider opening your farm up as a petting zoo on special occasions, and being near a main road can be helpful for this. However, larger farms can benefit from being further out from busy areas as it can give you the ability to move large combiners and tractors around without worrying about backing up traffic.
That said, if you do purchase farmland near a highway or busier area and decide to sell it in the future, you could see increased resale value as the space could be used for commercial purposes by someone else willing to pay more.
Barns and Buildings
When buying a farm property, you’ll need to think about either building your own barns and farm grain storage silos or investing in a property that already has them. However, purchasing a property with buildings already on-site can require some inspection to ensure that they are still in good condition.
For example, if you’re buying a property with a barn that you’re planning on using for animals, you’ll want to have roofers inspect the roof and a qualified home inspector to investigate the structural integrity of the entire structure. Keep in mind that some home inspectors won’t inspect barns and other agricultural buildings, so you’ll want to take care when finding one with experience.
This is important because you don’t want to buy a property with barns and silos only to find out that they aren’t going to last you. This means that you will need to pay to have them demolished and rebuilt so that you have the structures that you need.
If the property you’re looking at has obviously dilapidated buildings, it may be worth looking elsewhere, as these can pose safety concerns and they may harbor pests that will require you to hire a residential pest control service to manage, increasing the overall cost of owning a farm.
After you have decided which farm is right for you, you’re going to need to invest in farm insurance. Regardless of whether you are running a hobby farm, a crop farm, or a large-scale cattle farm, you aren’t going to want to try and cut costs on your insurance.
Insurance can help make sure that you are covered in the event that something happens to your farm, which can be especially important if you live in an area with severe summer storms that can cause damaging conditions.
Farm insurance can also help cover machinery and equipment, livestock, feed, and liability. In the long-term, this is something that you will most likely need to take advantage of and it can help keep the cost of owning a farm from being too much to manage.
If you are trying to start a farm for profit, financial advisors will be an invaluable asset. Not only can they help you plan the best course of action to create a profit, they can also help advise you on what the best investments are to help your farm business grow.
When looking for the best financial advisors, it’s important to look for ones who have experience working with farmers. This way, you can ensure that they have experience helping people just like you make the most out of their monetary investments.
Making the Most Out of Your New Farm
Farming is exceptionally hard work, no matter how large or small it is. However, it can be a highly rewarding hobby or business if you are willing to put in the hours. That said, even hard work isn’t a substitute for good planning, and farming isn’t something that you should invest in without seriously considering every aspect of your investment.
Think carefully about the type of farm that you want to start as this will inform all of your other decisions. Once you know this, you can start looking for the best property to meet your needs. Don’t just choose the first property you look at, and instead, think about the quality of the land, long-term viability, and whether or not it has the ability to provide for the type of farming you want to do.
You should also consider the condition of the property itself and whether or not it is going to cost you more in the long term to fix old buildings, old wells, old septic systems, and rotting fences. All of these repairs will have to be weighed against the inevitable cost of investing in animals, crops, and equipment, depending on the type of farm you are starting. Because of this, it’s important to consider multiple properties to weigh their pros and cons before making a decision on which is best both for farming and for your bottom line.
Once you have all of this plotted out, you can start focusing on making the most out of your new farmland by getting it set up just the way you want it.
If you are considering starting your own farm, keep these tips in mind so that you can avoid some of the most common mistakes that beginner farmers make. Following these tips and planning ahead can also help keep the cost of owning a farm lower, as you won’t need to spend more money correcting mistakes that could have been avoided.