5 Pathways for “Beginning Farmers” to break into their own operation.

Feb 18, 2024 | Uncategorized

Use these 5 pathways as inspiration to eventually manage/own their own farm or ranch.

Here’s 5 such paths with real world examples:

#1 Family Succession


Jason from MN grew up on the family crop + cow/calf farm.

Went to college.

Spent 3 yrs off-farm w/ another operation.

Came back.

→ Now, he’s buying into the operating entity on a predetermined vesting schedule at a discount to FMV.

#2 Non-Related Succession


Andy from SD has no kids who want to ranch.

He’s found a young ranch couple to lease-to-own the cow herd over 2 years.

Same young ranch couple is buying all of Andy’s ground on a 5 year contract.

Andy is fully retiring after 5 yrs.

#3 Employee to Ownership


Jim in KS has 3 kids – none who want to farm.

He’s hired someone to learn the ropes, get paid a wage, and have ownership vesting in the operating entity over 7 yrs.

Land rented to entity.

Jim will keep the land, live off the rent, & retire.

#4 The Side Farm


UPS driver Dale bought an acreage & now is renting pasture & tillable ground.

Farms cattle & row crops evenings, holidays, & weekends.

In 5-7 yrs he’ll switch to part time job as his farm expands.

His eventual goal is full-time farming.

#5 Investor Benefactor


TJ & Sue moved from WA to IA to buy a sheep farm.

Started w/ 40 acres & wanted to expand into accelerated lambing.

Local bank owner & high net worth individual invested $900K in facilities.

Tripled their flock & expanded their land base over the years.

Honorable Mention: High paying corporate gig → farm

Jeff worked 25 yrs as an executive for telecom company.

Piled up cash.

Left the company & bought a working hay & row crop farm.

Now has 2 sons looking to join & expand the operation.

One thing these paths all have in common is they take time. So, watch for opportunities, lay out a plan, and have patience to chase those ag dreams.

Become a member of Braintrust Ag to connect with other folks breaking into agriculture.

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