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Guide To Starting A Farming Business

how to start a farm

If you want to work for yourself and spend a lot of time outside then perhaps you should consider starting a farming business. You may think that with the fallout from Brexit, COVID-related supply chain issues, and a chronic shortage of seasonal agricultural labour 2022 isn’t a great time to be thinking about starting a farming business, but it isn’t all bad news.

If Jeremy Clarkson’s Farm has taught us anything, it’s that even the most prosperous among us may fail in this most difficult of areas. The future of the industry is always in the news, especially now that EU subsidies have gone, and the government is under pressure to aid the UK farming infrastructure even more.

It is impossible to deny that farming is an extremely difficult business to succeed in. However, you can earn a profit if you plan well, understand the initial and continuing costs, and know exactly what you’re getting into.

We’ll walk you through the obvious and not-so-obvious costs of machinery, land, and property, as well as other issues like marketing and location, so you can start your own farming business.

how to start a farm

What Is The Current State Of The Farming Industry?

The beginning of the coronavirus pandemic had a substantial impact on farming income, and recovery has been tough.

According to ONS predictions given in 2021, total farm income is expected to have decreased by £768 million (-15.7 percent) from 2019. It’s the lowest level since 2007.

COVID-19, on the other hand, is not without problems. According to the report, the corporation lost £999 million in revenue due to a dry season that jeopardised wheat and potato productivity.

Brexit has also had an impact on farmers in the United Kingdom. It was reported that many dairy farmers were allegedly pouring fresh milk down the drain as a result of supply chain challenges created by a scarcity of HGV drivers, which prevented delivery vehicles from picking up the commodity.

In reaction to the situation, the government in the UK is taking action. It stated that it will pay senior farmers up to £100,000 to retire which is part of a new government backed scheme to help resuscitate the sector and bring in more pioneering and ecological solutions.

However, increased government assistance will very certainly be required in the coming years to assist farmers in dealing with the consequences of these numerous commercial issues.

Training And Regulations

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for starting a farm business, knowing what training you’ll need and what standards you’ll have to follow is beneficial.

What Qualities Do You Need To Be A Farmer?

Organization – Running a farm business requires you to wear many hats, from working on the soil to doing paperwork and supervising employees. To accomplish so, you must be able to manage numerous aspects of the company at the same time, as well as know how to prioritise duties.

Management – Even if you start from scratch, your farm may grow to the point where you need to hire one or two employees. Over time, your company may expand to become a much larger operation, requiring you to manage an increasing number of team members. You must be able to encourage employees and match the right people to the right jobs.

Fitness – Working on a farm sometimes requires physically demanding duties. Even if your abilities are better suited to office work, you’ll need to understand the day-to-day operations of a farm business, especially in the beginning. Make sure you’re physically fit for the needs of farming.

What Training And Qualifications Are Needed?

You’ll need the following skills to run a farm:

Practical experience – Before launching your own farm business, get some first-hand experience on a working farm to gain a better grasp of how this industry operates. If you still have a full-time work, consider volunteering on a farm on weekends.

Driving Licence – If you wish to move from one part of the farm to another or deliver items into town, you should learn to drive.

Formal qualifications – While not required, having completed more formal agricultural training, such as a diploma, apprenticeship, or degree, may be beneficial. Qualifications and expertise earned in other fields can also be used to farm management.

What Regulations Do You Need To Comply With?

When starting a farm, there are various laws and regulations to be aware of and follow. The limitations that apply to your farm are frequently dictated by the type of farm that you operate.

In general, you must follow health and safety laws, as well as legislation governing the care and feeding of animals and food on your farm. The following are some examples:

Planning Permission – If you want to change the use of your farm or property, or build a house, you must first obtain permission from your local government.

Farm vehicles must be registered with the DVLA and meet certain health and safety standards.

Land Registry – The Rural Land Register should be used to record agricultural land.

Food Standards Agency – If your farm produces milk, you must register with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is in charge of food safety in the United Kingdom.

Health and safety – You must be aware of and adhere to the agricultural health and safety recommendations of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This includes performing risk assessments as needed, such as determining the safety of using buildings or hazardous substances, as well as managing animals.

Food standards and accreditations – These are used to verify that food is of high quality, traceable (Red Tractor), and that organic farming methods are employed (Soil Association organic certification).

Types Of Farm Businesses

It’s tempting to get carried away with the prospect of beginning a farm. In this section, we’ll go through some of the various sorts of farm businesses and offer advice on how to determine which one is best for you.

How to Start a Poultry Farm – Things to Consider:

  • Choose whether you wish to run a farm raising layers or meat hens (broilers)
  • Consider if the hens will be raised in barns or outdoors.
  • Determine what kind of fowl you’ll keep – chickens are the most common, but ducks, geese, and turkeys can also be raised on a poultry farm.
  • Consider what you’ll need to keep your chickens safe and protected from predators in general.

How to Start a Vegetable Farm – Points to Consider:

  • Consider what veggies you want to cultivate and whether they are doable on the land and soil you intend to farm.
  • Consider the type of irrigation system you’ll use to water your vegetables.
  • Choose whether you want to grow organic or non-organic crops, and make sure you have the necessary permissions if you wish to expand the former.
  • Consider how many different varieties of each vegetable you want to plant, as well as the number of distinct types.

Other Sorts of Farms Include the Following:

  • Dairy farming is the practise of raising cows or goats to produce milk for sale.
  • Cereals are agricultural crops that include barley, oats, and wheat.
  • Pig farming is the practise of raising pigs indoors or outdoors in order to produce pork products.
  • Fruits that can be grown include apples, strawberries, and raspberries.

how to start a farm

Costs

You’ve undoubtedly learned how to start a farm and are now curious about how to run a farm as a business. In this section, we’ll look at the costs as well as the prospective earnings.

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Farm Business?

Buildings And Outbuildings While your farms may already include structures, you’ll want to make sure they’re farm-ready. Similarly, when your farm business grows, you may need to extend or add sheds or other structures, so plan for these costs.

Equipment — As noted in the prior section, the type of farm business you want to start will determine the equipment you’ll require. Determine whether the equipment must be purchased, rented, or obtained second-hand. For additional information on the costs involved, please visit our agricultural equipment page.

Land – Land is one of the most expensive parts of beginning a farm. While land is typically inherited, farms in the United Kingdom can also be acquired or rented. You’ll need to determine how much acreage you’ll require for the crops or animals you intend to cultivate.

How Much Does Land Cost?

According to a Carter Jones study, the average value of arable land in the United Kingdom in 2021 is £8,450 per acre. The cost of grazing land per acre is £6,744.

Based on arable land costs, the average UK farm size of 87 hectares would cost little more than £1.8 million.

Insurance – While there are several ways to secure your farm business, acquiring the correct business insurance is critical. You will almost certainly require contents insurance for your equipment, as well as building insurance for your location.

Consider getting business interruption insurance if your company is unable to operate. If you hire employees, you must have employers’ liability insurance. Make certain that the coverage you select are appropriate for farm needs.

Potential Earnings

Predicting how much money you will make from your farm business can be challenging because there are so many variables to consider. Some instances are as follows:

  • What kinds of crops or animals do you raise?
  • How many distinct revenue streams do you have? Increasing your farm’s revenue by diversifying its services (see below for more information)
  • Subsidies and environmental programmes in which you participate

Farming demand – and thus revenue – can be influenced by both your level of agricultural experience and national and international politics. Furthermore, weather can cause large variations in agricultural yields from year to year.

Promoting And Expanding A Farm Business

Following the initial setup, it’s time to consider how you’ll build your business. This section will go through some of the finest ways to promote and expand your farm company.

Regardless of the technique you select to promote your farm business, keep your target audience – the clients you want to attract – at the forefront of your decision-making process.

Social Media

While your farm may be in a rural area, don’t let that prevent you from connecting with people in your neighbourhood and beyond using social media.

Determine which platforms are best for your business: Instagram and Pinterest are both visual platforms that can be used to display what’s going on at your farm.

LinkedIn and Twitter, on the other hand, are text-based platforms that can assist you and your farm business in establishing themselves as industry experts through the posting of articles and participation in discussions. Despite the fact that Facebook has many features, its messaging feature could be effective for responding to client issues.

Website

You’ll need a website so that people can easily locate information about your farm online, as well as a place to funnel traffic from your social media posts.

Your website should include vital information about your farm, such as contact information, as well as information about your team members and products.

To begin, you may like to use a website builder to design your own website. When your company grows and your website requirements become more sophisticated, you may need to engage a professional web developer (for example, a booking form for farm visits or an e-commerce store to sell your items).

Industry Events

Trade exhibits, organisational meetings, and networking events are all good venues for marketing your farm.

By networking with other guests at these events, you can build a network of farming industry professionals and others working in similar fields. Bring a plethora of business cards!

Traditional Marketing

While an internet presence is essential, traditional marketing should not be disregarded. The following are some offline marketing tactics for your farm:

  • Brochures and pamphlets, for example, could be distributed in community halls and other public locations.
  • To promote your farm, place advertisements in local or regional newspapers, magazines, and trade publications.
  • Radio — Create a jingle or advertisement to market your farm on radio stations and country shows that are relevant to your target audience, either on your own or with the assistance of an agency. This could be especially useful for reaching out to clients in remote areas who are unable to connect to the internet owing to poor signal quality.

How To Expand Your Farm Business

In the future, you might want to consider broadening your horizons in order to expand your farm business. A few instances are provided below:

  • Establish a farm shop
  • Offer accommodation such as a bed and breakfast or a campground.
  • Non-edible food crops that can be cultivated include flowers and flax.
  • It’s an excellent idea to raise goats, rabbits, sheep, or alpacas for their fleece.

Check to determine whether your farm can diversify while still performing its primary function. Check to determine whether any new rules or regulations will be relevant to your new projected output.

For more information, see the Gov.uk advice on diversifying farming companies.

What Are The Next Steps?

You’ve learned how to start a farm by reading this article, including what training and rules you’ll need to finish and follow, as well as some of the potential costs and revenues.

Farming is a highly rewarding business to start. It is arduous work, and it will require a lot of self-motivation as well as physical and mental input. Remember, you reap what you sow.

If you don’t have the capital to hand to start your farming business then we would suggest looking at what business loans are available from various banks, government schemes and private companies, it is worth researching each one in turn thoroughly before making a final decision.

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