A farm of any size is a great undertaking. Starting your own small farm not only requires the ability to raise commodities properly but to also market them and run the farm in accordance with state and federal regulations.
How to Start a Small Farm Business
Review your budget to start and make sure you have the financial backing to maintain your farm property, allowing for seed growth and the purchase of tools and materials needed for cultivation and distribution. You may be eligible for financial assistance or loans via federal programs or banks such as the Beginning Farmer Loan Program, USDA's Farm Service Agency or the Farm Credit System.
Meet with an accountant and an attorney to set up all corporate filings, business and tax permits. Set up bank accounts and systems for payroll with full-time and part-time help if needed. There are usually specific times of year (i.e., harvesting) when more help is needed on farms in order to meet distribution demands.
Determine your farm commodity and prepare your property for it. If it is livestock, be certain you have proper grazing and containment systems with shelter. If it is agriculture, lay out your property for ease of maintenance and cultivation. Establishing efficiency at the start will help you for years to come.
Establish relationships with local farmer's markets, grocery stores and chambers of commerce. Distribution contracts will allow short-term loans at times of harvest. Don't wait until the harvest is ready; know where it's going well in advance.
Stick to your business model and give yourself 3 to 5 years to grow the business. Keep your accountant and bankers advised on both the good news and the bad. In the event of a setback such as a natural disaster, they will be the ones you will call first to get back on track.