While it is difficult to become a successful farmer without experience, there are ways you can make up for a lack of experience. So, you want to become a farmer, but you’ve never grown a crop or raised livestock? Here’s how to break into agriculture and compensate for your lack of farming experience.
1. Decide why you’re interested in farming. It’s hard work, and the industry is, for the most part, steeped in tradition (i.e. newcomers aren’t exactly welcomed with open arms). If you’ve never farmed a day in your life, you’re going to get a lot of raised eyebrows from farmers and non-farmers alike. Be ready to answer the question “Why do you want to farm?” with confidence.
2. Choose what kind of farming you’d like to do. There are many sub-fields in agriculture such as:
- dairy (milk and cheese)
- grains (wheat, corn, oats, etc.)
- meat (beef, pork, lamb, poultry, eggs)
- vegetables & greens
- fruit orchards
- Plantation agriculture.
Do you want to specialize in one of the above, or do a little bit of everything? The trend in agriculture is towards commercialization and specialization. Generally, the larger the farm, the less diversified it is.
3. Find farms that you like. There might be some in your area, there might not. Ask around. Search the Web, and find out about county fairs and visit them. It’s there that you’ll find serious farmers. Talk to them. Ask them what they do, how their farms have changed over time, what direction they think the field is going in, and if you could stop by their farm and visit some time. Farmers are generally friendly, humble, and welcoming people, though some are more guarded than others.
4. Dress the part. This may sound superficial, but if you walked into a law firm interview dressed in a pair of jeans and boots, it’s the same as walking onto a farm wearing a pair of dockers and loafers. If you’re just starting out in farming, you’re probably going to be doing a lot of physical labor. Wear a clean t-shirt, jeans, and work boots. Invest in a good pair of work gloves because your hands will be sore and full of blisters in a very short time. If you have long hair, tie it back (consider a braid) so it doesn’t get caught in anything.
5. Become an apprentice. Offer your services as a laborer. This is the most critical step in becoming a farmer—working in exchange for an opportunity to learn. Since you’re just starting out, you’ll be entering at the bottom of the totem pole (as is the case in most careers). If you want to earn respect, you must:
a. Be physically fit. If you think you can farm without crouching, bending, lifting, or pulling, you’re being unrealistic. Only farm managers who’ve paid their dues can skip some physical labor, but even they often must push their bodies close to the limit for the job.
b. Be flexible. You must be willing to do anything and everything that needs to get done on a working farm. This may include: cleaning feces and urine, climbing ladders, driving a tractor on steep hillsides (which is very dangerous), killing pests like rats and rabbits, handling unruly animals (that may want to bite or trample you), weeding or harvesting for 12 hours or more, applying pesticides, slaughtering, butchering, euthanizing, etc. Farming isn’t just rainbows and butterflies, you know. If there’s something you’re not willing to do, state it up-front, and understand that your options may be limited as such.
c. Express your desire to learn. Watch people do what they do and ask them to teach you how. Whether it’s fixing the tractor, or deciding on what to feed the cows, or understanding the plant cycle, you’ll never become a farmer until you understand the hands-on “how” behind everything that makes a farm work.
d. Have a good sense of humor. Laughter makes the day go by faster, especially when your muscles are aching and you feel like your fingers are going to fall off and the weather has ruined your plans once again. A positive attitude is an asset to any farm!
Sourced from wikiHOW