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  1. #1
    Junior Member Chief Chef is on a distinguished road
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    How should I get into farming/agriculture and should I pursue it?..future economy

    Hi everyone! I'm new to this forum, but have been perusing through AgWeb for awhile now. It's been about 2 years since I graduated from college with a Bachelor's degree in Finance. However, I have not yet entered the Finance field and have just been working for family. After much research, I've decided that I would like to pursue the Agricultural field preferably as a farmer rather than sit behind a desk/computer analyzing graphs and numbers in an investment firm. Personally, I think the "farming lifestyle" and business aspects would be fun and suitable for me. With this being said, I have a few questions that perhaps the experienced farmers or people in the agricultural industry on this forum can answer and provide any suggestions or advice.

    1) Given that I have a Bachelor's in Finance, what's the best route that you'd suggest I take to get into the Agricultural industry? I was thinking about going back to school for an Agricultural Science degree, but that costs more money plus I don't really want to spend another 2-4yrs or so.

    -Instead, should I just try to find a farm that specializes in whatever crop/animal that I would like to do in the future and be an apprentice? Should I try to cut a deal with them by working for free in exchange for knowledge and farming experience? What about a farm school? Any other ideas/suggestions?

    2) With the rising populations and food shortages, which would evidently drive the prices up, what is your outlook on the Agricultural industry? Is it a field that you see will be viable in the future? In the U.S.? Should I look for other opportunities around the world such as Asia (China, Vietnam, Thailand, etc) or Australia or South America?

    I've read that the average age of farmers in America are around 55 or "baby boomers" and that most will be retiring, but there are less young farmers trying to get into this field. Because of this, would this present a piece of the pie for my self and others to capitalize on?

    3) Jim Rogers, the renowed investor who was partners with George Soros, is big on commodities and I've read articles and watched videos of him saying that for the future, Agriculture will be big business and farmers could potentially become rich. Also, he said that instead of getting MBA degrees, the younger generation should pursue Agriculture degrees. What do you think he means by this?...especially due to the fact that land is only getting more expensive and most of the commercial farming in America is driven by large companies whom have been trying to get rid of smaller scale farmers.

    Which leads me to another question...because of the increasing land values making it harder for starters to break into the farming business, will there be a growth in other farming methods/systems (i.e. greenhouses, aquaculture, hydroponics, etc) than traditional farming in the future? Would the more profitable agricultural business be in these smaller and technological farms? Will commercial farming be hard to do unless you have the adequate amount of capital to invest in?

    How does one get into commercial farming, though? Should younger farmers strive for commercial farming OR just try to build smaller scale organic farms utilizing the technology advances and maximizing space (maybe increase in urban farms)?

    4) The direction that I've been thinking about for the future is doing organic greenhouse hydroponic setups for vegetables on perpetual cycles year-round such as kale (high $/lb), etc and maybe a meat goat farm as well to export or farm fish in an aquaculture environment. I feel like by doing this, I can get the best bang for my buck with the land value. What do you guys think? I mean, I would like to do commercial farming for sugar, soybeans, corn, or even potato, but to start that it may require too much capital and there will be too much competition from larger companies. Also, I think it be fun to do an organic cattle farm, but again that would be too much capital because they would need a lot of land to roam. Again, these are just some ideas I've been playing around with and at very very early stages as a "potential farmer", but any advice would be appreciated.


    I would love to hear your thoughts on these questions with your knowledge and experience in the Ag industry and to share with me any suggestions or advice that you may have. Hope to hear from y'all soon, thank you!!
    Last edited by Chief Chef; 06-08-2014 at 10:03 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member verbatime is on a distinguished road verbatime's Avatar
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    Well that was an interesting read. You know you could move to Colorado or Washington state and start raising pot right in your apartment... or rent a warehouse.

  3. #3
    Senior Member jabber1 is on a distinguished road
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Chef View Post
    Hi everyone!

    --------------------- my replies behind the -------------------

    I'm new to this forum, but have been perusing through AgWeb for awhile now. It's been about 2 years since I graduated from college with a Bachelor's degree in Finance. However, I have not yet entered the Finance field and have just been working for family. After much research, I've decided that I would like to pursue the Agricultural field preferably as a farmer rather than sit behind a desk/computer analyzing graphs and numbers in an investment firm. Personally, I think the "farming lifestyle" and business aspects would be fun and suitable for me. With this being said, I have a few questions that perhaps the experienced farmers or people in the agricultural industry on this forum can answer and provide any suggestions or advice.
    ------------------ Welcome. It sounds like you are interested in a business that volatility in weather, volatility in markets, and volatility in production due to diseases/pests will make things very ummmmmmmmmm volatile at times.

    1) Given that I have a Bachelor's in Finance, what's the best route that you'd suggest I take to get into the Agricultural industry? I was thinking about going back to school for an Agricultural Science degree, but that costs more money plus I don't really want to spend another 2-4yrs or so.

    -Instead, should I just try to find a farm that specializes in whatever crop/animal that I would like to do in the future and be an apprentice? Should I try to cut a deal with them by working for free in exchange for knowledge and farming experience? What about a farm school? Any other ideas/suggestions?
    --------------------------- Get some work experience on farm operations that appeal to you and pick the brains of those who manage and work there. There are some diverse farm operations that would love to add someone with a degree in finance and the desire to learn/work at diverse jobs.-------------------------

    2) With the rising populations and food shortages, which would evidently drive the prices up, what is your outlook on the Agricultural industry? Is it a field that you see will be viable in the future? In the U.S.? Should I look for other opportunities around the world such as Asia (China, Vietnam, Thailand, etc) or Australia or South America?
    ---------------------- Ummmmmmmm- my personal outlook is more volatility. Ag production has and will continue to be a very good profession for many in the US but it appears it will be for fewer and fewer people due to competition, capital, risk, technology, and labor costs. Countries with cheaper labor have an advantage in labor intensive crops. That leaves most of us primarily in ag enterprises that are easier to mechanize. Many do try to carve out specialty niches as part or all of their operation.---------------

    I've read that the average age of farmers in America are around 55 or "baby boomers" and that most will be retiring, but there are less young farmers trying to get into this field. Because of this, would this present a piece of the pie for my self and others to capitalize on?
    ---------------------- the aging of farm operators does create some grand opportunities for those in the next generation who have the desire, those who can manage money, and those that will take risk. --------------------------------------------------

    3) Jim Rogers, the renowed investor who was partners with George Soros, is big on commodities and I've read articles and watched videos of him saying that for the future, Agriculture will be big business and farmers could potentially become rich. Also, he said that instead of getting MBA degrees, the younger generation should pursue Agriculture degrees. What do you think he means by this?...especially due to the fact that land is only getting more expensive and most of the commercial farming in America is driven by large companies whom have been trying to get rid of smaller scale farmers.
    --------------- Jim is right and wrong. Some in each and every generation do very well and some fail.-------------------------

    Which leads me to another question...because of the increasing land values making it harder for starters to break into the farming business, will there be a growth in other farming methods/systems (i.e. greenhouses, aquaculture, hydroponics, etc) than traditional farming in the future? Would the more profitable agricultural business be in these smaller and technological farms? Will commercial farming be hard to do unless you have the adequate amount of capital to invest in?
    --------------- it seems to me that all ag production is pretty capital intensive. You are right that some of the examples above might generate more gross revenue and profits per $ of capital.--------------------

    How does one get into commercial farming, though? Should younger farmers strive for commercial farming OR just try to build smaller scale organic farms utilizing the technology advances and maximizing space (maybe increase in urban farms)?
    ----------------------- Maybe work on a farm or variety of farms and keep asking yourself and others those questions.----------

    4) The direction that I've been thinking about for the future is doing organic greenhouse hydroponic setups for vegetables on perpetual cycles year-round such as kale (high $/lb), etc and maybe a meat goat farm as well to export or farm fish in an aquaculture environment. I feel like by doing this, I can get the best bang for my buck with the land value. What do you guys think? I mean, I would like to do commercial farming for sugar, soybeans, corn, or even potato, but to start that it may require too much capital and there will be too much competition from larger companies. Also, I think it be fun to do an organic cattle farm, but again that would be too much capital because they would need a lot of land to roam. Again, these are just some ideas I've been playing around with and at very very early stages as a "potential farmer", but any advice would be appreciated.
    ------------ If you don't go to work on a farm, your other choice is get a good job and dabble in a small operation on the side to learn and build on.------------------


    I would love to hear your thoughts on these questions with your knowledge and experience in the Ag industry and to share with me any suggestions or advice that you may have. Hope to hear from y'all soon, thank you!!
    On further education- if your goal is to be a self employed farm operator- you won't guarantee yourself more money/profit/success if you have another degree. Though a formal education in agriculture is of value, many with degrees have failed in this business of farming. The degree increases options (if you later choose to work for an agribusiness rather than be self employed, the extra degree is an added attention getter) yet doesn't seem to have a high correlation with success rates for self employed ag producers in this area.

    Being a self employed agricultural producer will be a grand opportunity for a few in your generation. Discipline, hard work, some financial skills, desire, and an appetite to manage your investment will grease the wheels in your favor. Choosing a lifelong spouse who is supportive and comes to understand the sacrifice/risks that come with being self employed will add to your success. (or you can choose a girl with the right farm).

    Keeping in mind that you will always be competing with some who have cheap capital, niche enterprises like those you mentioned above are certainly worth considering.

    Also know this- the only thing that I have found in common in all who build wealth from their personal choices and/or run successful businesses for their entire lifetimes is that each and every one of them consumes less that their capacity/profits. This simple point is lost on many in higher education who appear to believe they can apply a cookie cutter to explain what is doable and viable longer term.

    IMHO- due to the concentration of age in farm operators above 55 years old, there will be some grand opportunities and likely some good bargains on capital. In this area- Many operations owned and operated by people in this age group have over $750 K in machines for corn and soy production. Very many do not have a successor in place. One has to wonder just how much used machinery the market can handle without a serious set back in used machine prices. Any setback in capital values during this massive transition/ retirement simply makes more capital owned by aging operators available for sale. Current federal laws dealing with depreciation suggests that the Feds will get a sizable chunk of all machine sales.

    Best wishes.
    Last edited by jabber1; 06-09-2014 at 07:19 AM.
    "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." John F Kennedy

  4. #4
    Senior Member GREG1 is on a distinguished road
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    Good point made there jabba the hut. I have a neighbor up the road that is looking in that direction. He doesn't want to sell his equipment and would like to help out on the farm until he finally quits. He's looking at a young person to fill the gap.

    Large farming operations can't always get the job done some years .......LIKE THIS ONE......with prices heading south, opportunities will come about and should for the new comers in ag. I hope young wanna be farmers have a shot. This grab bag bs agriculture of today is showing a lot of problems and not many solutions. Innovation today will solve a lot of those problems. Farming is all about solving problems so if you want to farm, just look around you, lots of problems to solve, never a shortage.

    Good Luck.

  5. #5
    Junior Member Geeps is on a distinguished road
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    If you can get a job on the type of farm you think you would like, then do that before pursuing a career in that market. It could be more fun than you think.

    Your question sounds a lot like, "How do I get to be the owner of an NFL football team?" You can start out as the water boy, work very long and hard, and get lucky, or you can buy your way in. If Warren Buffet wanted to be a farmer, he could begin tomorrow, even without the help of any relatives.

  6. #6
    Senior Member joe_alzado is on a distinguished road
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    Getting a child into farming is child abuse, so if you feel compelled to self abuse yourself get after it..
    Agriculture today is in a huge superstition of fictional economics, and to that recognize cheap food policies in the US are the perfect formula for starvation, because the real farmers will have their fruits of labor stolen from them, to sustain the cheap food polices, and so the transportation, processing and distribution sector can keep making the huge profits. The US, china, and Europe is in for permenant population declines, so its not true their is an increasing population, that is propaganda, to entice people to enter, or be slave of debt and production. Two people can farm all the land in the US, one east of the Mississippi, one West... which side are you going to do?

    (democracy is a good form of government is the people remain vigilant and hold those the pick as leaders accountable to them. ) unlike the most failed generation every in world history has done today.)

  7. #7
    Moderator ses is on a distinguished road ses's Avatar
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    Just marry into it. Plenty of corn fed Iowa heifers to go around.

  8. #8
    Senior Member dairyfarmmn is on a distinguished road
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    Quote Originally Posted by GREG1 View Post
    Good point made there jabba the hut. I have a neighbor up the road that is looking in that direction. He doesn't want to sell his equipment and would like to help out on the farm until he finally quits. He's looking at a young person to fill the gap.


    Good Luck.
    Translation....... He's going to tell the young person EXACTLY how HE wants it done. He doesn't want to help someone out. He wants a hired man. Have seen this tried hundreds of times. Rarely work out.

  9. #9
    Junior Member Chief Chef is on a distinguished road
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    Quote Originally Posted by verbatime View Post
    Well that was an interesting read. You know you could move to Colorado or Washington state and start raising pot right in your apartment... or rent a warehouse.
    lol that's funny you said that. I'm actually from WA state and was involved in the medical marijuana industry. Now they got the I-502, but I didn't file an application for it because it's going to be highly regulated and I don't want the state breathing down my neck since it's still in its infancy. Plus, the gov't will take a big cut from the profits if your a retailer/producer and high taxes. I don't know tho...I rather just do organic vegetables/herbs and meat/fish instead if I can even tho it may not be as profitable.

  10. #10
    Junior Member Chief Chef is on a distinguished road
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    Quote Originally Posted by jabber1 View Post
    On further education- if your goal is to be a self employed farm operator- you won't guarantee yourself more money/profit/success if you have another degree. Though a formal education in agriculture is of value, many with degrees have failed in this business of farming. The degree increases options (if you later choose to work for an agribusiness rather than be self employed, the extra degree is an added attention getter) yet doesn't seem to have a high correlation with success rates for self employed ag producers in this area.

    Being a self employed agricultural producer will be a grand opportunity for a few in your generation. Discipline, hard work, some financial skills, desire, and an appetite to manage your investment will grease the wheels in your favor. Choosing a lifelong spouse who is supportive and comes to understand the sacrifice/risks that come with being self employed will add to your success. (or you can choose a girl with the right farm).

    Keeping in mind that you will always be competing with some who have cheap capital, niche enterprises like those you mentioned above are certainly worth considering.

    Also know this- the only thing that I have found in common in all who build wealth from their personal choices and/or run successful businesses for their entire lifetimes is that each and every one of them consumes less that their capacity/profits. This simple point is lost on many in higher education who appear to believe they can apply a cookie cutter to explain what is doable and viable longer term.

    IMHO- due to the concentration of age in farm operators above 55 years old, there will be some grand opportunities and likely some good bargains on capital. In this area- Many operations owned and operated by people in this age group have over $750 K in machines for corn and soy production. Very many do not have a successor in place. One has to wonder just how much used machinery the market can handle without a serious set back in used machine prices. Any setback in capital values during this massive transition/ retirement simply makes more capital owned by aging operators available for sale. Current federal laws dealing with depreciation suggests that the Feds will get a sizable chunk of all machine sales.

    Best wishes.
    Thanks for the insight! When you mention "this area", what area are you in? So, you think my best bet if I want to get into the industry is just try to work on a farm and gain hands-on experience/knowledge instead of going back to school? Also, what are your thoughts on smaller scale farming such as organic greenhouse, etc for the future vs commercial farming that requires lots of machinery/equipment?

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