Small Farm Business Plan

In times of a pandemic, everyone is realizing that food insecurity is actually part of a first world problem, if managed incorrectly. How did you feel in 2020? Can I assume you were food insecure? Or at least close to it? Most people were…

There are so many problems with our current food system.

  • Just in Time Transportation
  • Demand Fluctuation
  • Farmers get 1% of the store prices
  • Most farmers do not own the animals they raise
  • Its “easier” to get it at the “store”
  • Current Farming practices are not sustainable

Fun Fact… Did you know it takes 100 years to grow 1 inch of top soil?! And did you know that each year with conventional farming methods 1% of top soil is lost?!

I could go on and on and on….

So what can you do about it?

I’m sure you have thought about just doing it yourself! But how? There’s so much that goes into it. We have made other videos about starting a farm and how to farm on a small amount of land, but the real question is can you make it make you money??? The answer is yes!

How much do you need?

Start with your personal budget. This can be very eye opening! I just cancelled all kinds of nonsense subscriptions because its just a waste of money! Find what is truly important, and not SO important, to you and your family. If you haven’t made a budget for yourself it goes a little like this…

Monthly Expenses: loans, credit cards, groceries (we just found an awesome blog about using Aldi to buy groceries for a week with under $100), gas, utilities, subscriptions, savings (yes, savings is a bill, or you will never actually save), funsies (you don’t want to feel trapped by your budget either, its okay to go out and have fun every now and then).

Monthly Income: are you paid with a W2, do you have any outside sources of income? You should consider all of them in here.

You’ll want to make sure you stick to this budget, one wrong move and you’ll be too stressed to focus on your business! A little oopsie here or there won’t kill you but always remember what your end goal is… your lifestyle.

Now you can multiple your values by 12 to make a yearly figure. You can always review your budget too! Did you see somethings in there you can cut out? DO IT!

Okay, so now you know how much you need to make per year. Save that number, we will need it later.

What are you selling?

Start small and go with something you are passionate about Whether this is bees, chickens, cows, whatever!! Get really good at it. This may take a couple years, or more; especially if you start with something that is a long term investment like beef cattle which can take at minimum 12 months to make you any return. I am so very passionate about beef cattle but I do not recommend starting with it. If you do, find a filler to make you money in the mean time.

I like to recommend going with chickens, broilers or layers. They don’t need much space. They cost a whole lot. They give you a product relatively quickly. They give back the most to the soil. You can check out our video about raising chickens for both layers and broilers by clicking the following link.

Raising Chickens for Meat.

Backyard Chickens 101.

While you’re figuring things out you should try out your product. This sounds silly but you would be surprised how many people have a this great big business but they don’t even use what they grow/sell!

Okay. Now you have it mostly figured out. I say mostly because in farming things can always be improved upon! You are never fully set with a system What’s next?

Where can you sell it?

I’m sure while you were trying out your product you talked to friends and family about it. You probably even gave some to them and I bet they loved it! But who is going to buy it consistently? How can you make this a fulltime gig? You should go to your local farmers market. Ask around… is there a vendor that sells what you sell? If so, go talk to them. Remember, we are all in this together!! If they are passionate about what they do, they will tell you most of their secrets. They might hold back a few things, that’s okay! If they brush you off or act as though you are horrible competition, smile and move on, they probably won’t be there in a couple years

I will preach this until I die… WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER!!

If there isn’t a similar vendor, go talk to the market master, or the person leading the market. They have their finger on the pulse of their market. They should know exactly what people are looking for and if they don’t have someone to fulfill that need, they want to!

It’s okay if you need to go to a farmers market that is out of your area a little. At least to start. This things don’t happen over night, and just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come. Be patient and get a good customer base. I am going to write another blog over how to build a good customer base and how to keep them, but for now, just keep it in mind.

How much to sell it for?

Remember you are valuable!! So many farmers are so focused on being affordable that they forget that they have a very valuable product! Compare what others are selling theirs for, look at your target customer, ask your friends and neighbors what they think a reasonable price would be.

You can always change your price!! Just try not to change it too often or people will think you don’t know what you’re doing. Well, you might not know what you’re doing, but they don’t have to know that, haha

How to make it a living?

Now that you have a solid product and a great place to sell it, you need to know how much you need to raise and sell to make it a true a living wage.

For simple math, say you need $50,000 a year to meet the expenses we talked about earlier. Each product sells for a gross profit of $10. Simple math tells us you need to sell 5,000 units of that product. That may sound like a lot. But if we divide 5,000 by 12 months you get approximately 460 units per month or if you divide 460 by 4, you need 115 a week.

You’ll have good weeks and bad weeks but by using your resources you can easily sell that!! It took us two years to figure out what we truly had into each species. We know what it takes to finish 1 calf, 1 pig, and 1 batch of chickens. We used these figures to find our net income and multiplied that by each animal.

Even today this number can change based on feed, processing, and other variable factors that go into growing, raising, and selling a product. But keep in mind, we found these numbers while working off farm jobs.

Once you have the above things figured, you can start diversifying! And that is just the cherry on top for income. Once you’re confident in your product and you have seen it work, its time to take the leap and do it fulltime! Its scary, yes, but farming is the most rewarding job I have found!

There are so many more things I want to share with you, so but for now I’ll leave you with this… Starting a farm is not an easy task, but it is a rewarding one. Most people steer away due to fear and failure. Don’t make decisions based on the fears of others.