As a landowner, you may reap several advantages if you put your land to farm use. Some states offer significant tax breaks for agricultural use. If you grow certain crops, you may be eligible for federal subsidies. Also, using your land for farm production can offer you a certain amount of self-sufficiency, or revenue from sales or tourism.
According to Tom Tower, owner of One Iron Horse Farm in Dripping Springs, Texas, you need to research what grows well in your climate, and in your soil type, which can vary from farm-to-farm in some areas. "Talk to other farmers and see what works well, and if they had to make any significant modifications, such as installing an irrigation system, that might be cost-prohibitive versus what you could expect to reap from crops sales," says Tower. Another good resource, says lifelong farmer and 2011 president of the National Farmers Union Roger Johnson, is your county's Cooperative Extension System. Some common crops are wheat, flax, soybeans and corn. You will also need to invest in the necessary capital equipment to plant and harvest.
If your land is currently good grazing land, or is conducive to growing good grazing grass, you may be able to put it to use with livestock. Many states offer tax breaks for grazing land, even if you lease it to other farmers for their livestock. You can also raise livestock for their meat or, for their hair, such as with llamas or alpacas. Make sure your climate is also suitable for your preferred livestock before investing in them.
Clean Energy or Eco-Farms
You may be able to use your land for clean energy generation or other ecological uses. For example, check to see if your land is in an area that might be desirable for alternative energy companies to generate wind power through a wind farm, or solar panel installations. You may be eligible for federal benefits if your grow corn or soybeans for alternative fuels. One landowner in Dripping Springs, Texas, operates a rainwater collection farm that bottles and then sells rainwater.
Organic produce is popular, as are venues for selling it, such as farmers markets. On a larger scale, you may be able to market to local restaurants and perhaps neighborhood grocers. Some organic farms allow the public to come onto the farms, select and pick their produce straight from the garden. If you are marketing your produce as organic, you may need to meet certain regulations with your growing and handling conditions.
- Tom Tower, Owner, One Iron Horse Farm, Dripping Springs, Texas
- Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union, Washington, D.C.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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