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Guide To Starting A Farming Business

how to start a farm

Learning how to start a farming business could be an excellent idea for anyone who loves nature and being outside. Although the farming industry took a hit during COVID-19 and just after the post-pandemic era, it still offers plenty of potential and options to choose from if you’re willing to work hard.

If Jeremy Clarkson’s farm taught us anything, it is how challenges can also affect the most prosperous. The absence of the EU subsidiaries and the pressure on the UK government to support farming infrastructure has been the news.

There is no denying the fact that farming has its challenges but the nature of the industry keeps predicting opportunities for innovative farmers. If you want to be a successful farmer, you must carefully calculate the initial and running costs before getting started.

This guide on how to start a farming business explains the costs of machinery, land and other factors like marketing and proximity to farm materials.

What Is The Current State Of The Farming Industry?

The post-pandemic era has been relatively tough for the farming industry. According to the ONS predictions in 2021, the total farm income was estimated to have decreased by £768 million (15.7%) from 2019. It was a record low since 2007.

Brexit also had a big impact on farmers with reports of dairy farmers experiencing losses as they were allegedly forced to pour their fresh milk down the drains. It was caused by supply chain challenges because of the scarcity of HGV drivers due to the changes in workers rights from the Brexit movement. The end result was that there were not enough delivery vehicles to pick up the fresh dairy products.

Those scenarios have now seen the UK government take action with promises to pay the senior farmers up to £100,000 to retire. It is an initiative from the latest government scheme to resuscitate the farming sector and encourage more ecological solutions. The full implementation of these government policies to assist the industry will be appreciated by the farmers who have weathered the storm of the commercial and economical challenges faced by the industry in recent years. .

What To Expect From Farming 

Prospective farmers need to understand what’s involved in farming, the skills, competencies required, and also the regulations that must be followed. It’s a tough gig.

What Qualities Do You Need To Be A Farmer?

Organisation – while farming can be fun to passionate individuals, managing a farm as a business is a serious work. From working on the soil, caring for livestock, to getting paperwork in order and supervising employees, there is so much to do. You must have good organisation skills to be able to plan activities efficiently if you want to become a successful farmer.

Management – for small farms, management is usually just you as the sole coordinator of farming and business activities. However, expansion of operation capacity and hiring employees require good management skills to choose the right people and maintain product quality.

Fitness – working on a farm is physically demanding, especially overseeing the day-to-day operations of the business. Even after hiring people for the farm work, you will still need to supervise them and move around the premises.

What Training And Qualifications Are Needed?

The following are the minimum qualifications to start a farming business:

Practical experience – you must have some first-hand farm experience before deciding to run your own farm. A real farm experience teaches the difference between theoretical expectations and what actually happens on the farm. You will learn how the industry operates and how to supervise employees when you finally start a farm.

Driving licence – driving is an essential skill required for moving items around the farm or making deliveries. Even as a farm supervisor, you must have a driving licence for emergency cases.

Formal qualifications – formal training in an educational setup is not mandatory but is hugely beneficial for the best farm management knowledge. Formal qualifications include a diploma, apprenticeship, or degree in related agricultural training.

What Regulations Do You Need To Comply With?

A complete guide to starting a farming business must contain the essential laws and regulations for any farm type you operate. Check out the relevant health and safety laws, and legislation laws that control the feeding of animals and production of food on your farm.

Planning permission – it is mandatory to obtain permission from your local government before changing the use of your farm or buildings on the land owned.

Farm vehicle registration – every farm vehicle must be registered and meet the minimum health and safety standards.

Land registry- you must register your farming location with the rural land register.

Food Standards Agency – every farmer that produces milk or dairy products must register with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in charge of food safety in the United Kingdom.

Health and safety – it is mandatory for every farmer to comply with the agricultural health and safety regulations. That includes performing risk assessments and safety checks for farm buildings and proper storage of hazardous substances.

Food standards and accreditations – these refer to the regulations to control the quality of food and ensure compliance with recognised accreditations like the use of organic farming methods (Soil Association organic certification).

Types Of Farm Businesses

The farming industry provides a variety of options if you want an agricultural-related career. We will consider the Poultry and Vegetable farming types and some other common farm business opportunities.

How to Start a Poultry Farm – Things to Consider:

  • Determine if you want to raise layers (for egg production) or broilers (for meat production).
  • Consider whether the hens’ farming location is outdoor or in a controlled barn.
  • Pick the type of bird(s) that you want on your farm. Chickens are the most popular but you could also have ducks, geese, and turkeys on a Poultry farm.
  • Determine effective safety measures to protect your hens from predators.

How to Start a Vegetable Farm – Points to Consider:

  • Determine the type of vegetables you want to cultivate and if they can grow well on the soil type you have.
  • Choose an effective irrigation method to water your vegetables.
  • Decide if you will be growing organic or non-organic crops. Ensure you obtain the necessary permissions if you later decide to expand production.
  • Consider the number of vegetable varieties your farm can take and the number of each distinct type you want to grow.

Other Sorts of Farms Include the Following:

  • Dairy farming: the practice of raising cows or goats for milk production.
  • Cereal farming: growing agricultural crops like wheat, oats and barley.
  • Pig farming: the practice of raising pigs either indoors or outdoors for pork (meat production)
  • Fruit farming: growing fruits like apples, strawberries and raspberries.

Costs

This guide to starting a farming business has discussed the different farming types, minimum qualifications and regulations to run a successful farm. The next sections explain how to calculate the costs to run a farm as a business.

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Farm Business?

Buildings and Outbuildings – the type of farming you choose determines the farm structures you have. It is necessary to plan room for expansion when erecting farm buildings or sheds since they impact the overall costs.

Equipment – before starting a farming business, you must evaluate the type of equipment required. For a small farm, you have to consider whether to purchase new equipment or a second-hand one. Renting is another option for the very expensive or seldom used equipment types.

Land – the cost of securing a landed property to farm is one of the most expensive costs of starting a farming business. For some people, the land was inherited while many people simply acquired or rented one. The land cost consideration also includes how many acres are sufficient for the type of crops or animals you want.

How Much Does Land Cost?

According to a Carter Jonas study, the average value of arable land in the United Kingdom in Q3 2023 was £9,517 per acre. The average pasture land cost was £7,683

Insurance

Insurance costs should be part of your budget to start a farm business. Essential insurance policies to consider are Content Insurance for your farm equipment and Building Insurance for your structures.

Other important types are Business Interruption Insurance for when your company is unable to operate. There is also Employers’ Liability Insurance for those that will hire employees. You can contact a legal advisor for the best insurance policies that cover your farm needs.

Potential Earnings

Calculating how much money you could expect to make versus your expected costs is a key aspect of budgeting. Consider the following areas when looking at your finances.

The following are factors that affect your potential earnings from the farm:

  • The type of crops or animals you are going to raise on the farm.
  • The number of district revenue streams from the farming business. You can diversify your services for more revenue.
  • The availability of subsidies and government incentives to support farming costs.

Understand that your level of experience and training can affect the farming decisions you make and your revenue. Weather is another factor that greatly impacts your agricultural yield for the year. Plan for the worst and hope for the best is a good way of working in this industry.

Promoting And Expanding A Farm Business

Once a farming business is established, you can seek to make additional revenue from promoting your farming activities through marketing and expanding areas that bring in the most income.

Consider social media, online presence with a website, industry events, and strategic business management to progress the business forward.

Social Media

Starting a farming business in a local or rural area should not be a limitation to connecting with customers in and outside your neighbourhood. The use of social media gives a platform to promote your business and display what is going on at your farm. You can start with visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.

It is also possible to create and upload written content for text-based networks like LinkedIn and Twitter. Crafting quality posts can position you as an industry expert and increase reach to other farmers and potential buyers.

Website

Setting up an official website page for your farming business is an effective way of promoting your brand. A website gives credibility and can increase trust from potential investors and financial institutions.

Once you’ve set up the website, the next step is to create and link business social media accounts to it. You should also include vital information about your farm like contact information, pictures of your production process and an overview of team members

There are simple website builders with affordable pricing that allow you to set up an official business page quickly. You can also outsource the design to a professional web developer.

Industry Events

Another helpful strategy when starting a farming business is to take networking seriously by attending organisational meetings and farm events. Connecting with other farmers is a good way to grow and promote your business. You’d also stay updated with the latest farming developments and policies.

Traditional Marketing

While online advertising and the use of social media promise lots of potential, you must also continue traditional marketing strategies to reach your local community.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Share brochures and pamphlets about your farm activities to community halls and other public locations
  • Bid for advertisement slots in local or regional newspapers
  • Create a jingle or advertisement scripts to promote your farm on radio stations and TV shows that are relevant to your target audience. It is an effective strategy to connect to remote areas without a stable internet connection.

How To Expand Your Farm Business

Once your farm business is up and running, plans of expansion and sustainability becomes the priority. Consider trying any of the following:

  • Establishing a farm shop.
  • Cultivate non-edible food crops such as flowers and flax.
  • Livestock farming of goats, rabbits, sheep or alpacas for their fleece.
  • Consider offering accommodation on the land such as an AirBnB in kooky farm buildings.

Proper planning is necessary to ensure that your farm can diversify without affecting the production of primary products. You should also ask relevant agencies for regulations that might control the production of your new output.

What Are The Next Steps?

Starting a farming business is a high-reward investment that requires a lot of self-motivation, and physical and mental input. We’ve given you some food for thought in this article, but there is so much to learn about farming it would be impossible to cover it all in one article.

Take a look into available government grants and loans from banks or money lenders to ease the cost burden and always ensure that safety comes first by following relevant due diligence on the farm and during the set up period.

Talking to established farmers in different areas to get a feel for what it’s like in practice is a great way to get first hand insight.

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