Five things every aspiring farmer should know
A life in agriculture takes passion, commitment and a lot of courage. Here are five key points to remember.
The idea of starting a farm from scratch is daunting. A life in agriculture takes passion, commitment and a lot of courage. There can be significant investments in land and equipment, not to mention all the money in inputs such as seed and fertilizer. All to gamble on the fact that Mother Nature will allow you to produce a crop that someone will buy.
Here are five pieces of advice to help you BEGIN to realize your dream from Mary Robinson of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and an Albany, P.E.I., farmer.
Make sure you are set up with good advice from the start. A strong tax, financial and legal team is foundational to your farming success. Understand the implications if interest rates rise, crop prices substantially swing or any other relevant scenarios. Always host meetings with your farm team and treat the farm like a business – because it’s a business. Host an AGM, review financial statements and learn from your mistakes to better plan.
There’s a different work ethic in agriculture compared to many other industries. The calling goes beyond the job, and that’s because it’s properly understood as a lifestyle. Farming success will come from skilled work and taking the job seriously, of course. But it also stems from passion, commitment and the ability to contribute to local, national and international agriculture.
There’s a saying: If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. This light-hearted reference shows that if you’re not involved in crafting farm policy and being active in decision-making at a broader level, someone else will. You can receive a free lifelong education by joining your local ag society or provincial or territorial farm organizations that advocate policy issues. Never underestimate what you have to offer.
Farming can swallow you up if you’re not careful, so it’s important to take care of yourself and not forget who you are. Physical and mental health must be a priority – thankfully we’re seeing an increased awareness of this. Many of us live at our workplace, making it a challenge to create a true work-life balance compared to other industries. Each of us is bigger than our farm. Be kind to yourself and step away from your operation to reset and return feeling re-energized and excited.
Agriculture is as old as dirt. While some look at it with romantic notions of antiquated tractors, the reality is far different. Agriculture is as high-tech as it gets, and that requires an attitude of constant learning. It’s important because it keeps you on the cutting edge of industry practices, and it’s also good for your brain. When you learn, you often do it with others, creating a positive social element to farming – and that’s a win-win.