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An illustrated farming scene with cows and a tractor.
  • How would you define a farm?
  • Is the farm the primary way you will earn money?
  • Will it be a secondary source of income?
  • Will it be just for fun?

“I have 40 acres. I want to start a farm business.”

What are your goals?

Are you willing to run this operation as a business?

You must keep records and educate yourself.

Consider the risks of agricultural businesses:

  • Production: Will the crop fail?
  • Price: Will the market decline?
  • Institutional: Will regulations interfere?
  • Financial: Will the money be there?
  • Personal: Will you stay healthy?

An illustrated farming scene with a tractor ploughing a field.What resources do you have?

You will need three things:

  • Land. A suitable place to do business. Could you be doing something else with it?
  • Labor. Someone must know how to be a farmer. Who will do the work? How much does it cost?
  • Love. Is this something you really want to do? You may have to make sacrifices.

Is there a market?

Will someone buy what you produce?

Is there an established market?

  • What are the market dynamics?
  • Is the market saturated with this product?
  • Can you compete at your scale?
  • Can you make it profitable at the market prices?

Can you establish a market?

  • Are you willing to commit the additional time and cost?
  • Can you handle the uncertainty?

Alternatives: What else could you do?


Show me the money!


  • Interest cost on borrowed money
  • Collateral for a loan

Do you have personal investment capital?

  • What could it be earning otherwise?

Create a business plan.

  • Show a profit on paper.
  • Create a budget using reasonable production income and expense estimates.

What return do you expect from your investment?

Visit www.aces.edu/go/farm-management to learn more on the Alabama Extension website.


Alabama Extension Farm & Agribusiness Management logo

Peer Review markDennis BrothersAssociate Extension Professor, Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Auburn University

Revised November 2023, So You Want To Be a Farmer, ANR-3021

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