New Farmers “Road Map” To Success

Being a new farmer trying to start out can be scary. From the investment, market volatility, land prices, and even trying to live up to what others are doing. There are many organizations working hard to provide support and resources to help new and younger farmers succeed. However, for a young farmer, figuring out where to begin can be stressful. With limited time and resources, the question becomes: Who do I talk to first? To address this issue, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) partnered with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to create a valuable resource – the Wisconsin Beginning Farmer Resource Guide.

“This resource guide is a blueprint for aspiring farmers, offering a step-by-step approach to building a new farm or agribusiness,” explains Dan Bauer, Program Supervisor at the Wisconsin Farm Center. “It breaks down the journey into several key phases and also has a dedicated section to networking to help connect these new farmers with those already in the industry.”

The guide covers the following topics:

  • Brainstorming: Start by identifying your business idea. What kind of farm or agribusiness are you passionate about?
  • Learning: Dive deep into understanding your chosen field. Education is crucial in any industry, and farming is no exception.
  • Planning: Develop a business plan. A solid plan is the foundation for success in farming.
  • Funding: Access to capital is essential. Whether it’s for equipment purchases, marketing, or other expenses, you’ll need financial support.
  • Forming: This phase involves getting your legal and also administrative affairs in order. You must establish your business as a recognized entity to reap the benefits.
  • Operating: Once you have your idea, education, plan, and funding in place, you can officially start operating your business.

When it comes to financial support for young farmers, it’s important to consider the available grants, loans, and assistance programs. The FSA offers specific programs for beginning farmers, including direct and guaranteed loan programs with lower interest rates. They also have a microloan program designed to help farmers during their startup years. In addition to FSA programs, the USDA is another valuable resource for grant opportunities and financial support. 

“I know navigating these loans can be tough,” says Bauer. “If you’re having trouble knowing how to begin, reach out to the Farm Center and we can help provide guidance, review business plans, and offer valuable insights from years of experience working with farmers.”