Starting a Small Farm Business
Farm-based businesses have expanding opportunities to offer unique products, entertainment, and services to locals or visitors from around the world. Osceola County’s recent increase in new residents has brought in both new farm operators and new residents looking for fun activities in their communities. The demand for local flavors and on-farm fun is high.
Consumers love supporting local farms, and they want more ways to access local foods, meet farmers, and experience agriculture. Agricultural tourism, or agritourism, is a trending way for consumers to experience agriculture. Agritourism activities include farm tours, classes, fruit-picking, festivals, farm stands, animal experiences, and a wide variety of other agriculture-centered activities. Another trend that agricultural producers can take advantage of is the growing popularity of beverage crafting. Farmers have new opportunities to grow specialty products for beverage-making, or to have their own farm breweries, wineries, or distilleries. Restaurants, farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture, and online order and delivery services offer additional options for marketing farm products. UF IFAS Extension can help you cultivate your business idea into a profitable venture.
Advantages of being a small farm entrepreneur
Farms and ranches of all sizes can cash in on the increasing interest in farm-based food and fun, but small-farm entrepreneurs have some unique advantages:
Small farm operations have the freedom to be more creative. They aren’t dependent on buyer contracts or controlled by current market pricing. They can produce small amounts of high-dollar specialty products that can be marketed in innovative ways.
Small farm producers have more opportunities to connect with consumers. Many small agricultural operations sell directly to their customers. This gives farmers a chance to tell their stories, let consumers know about their products, and create customer relationships.
Location doesn’t really matter. Small farm businesses are not dependent on having a highly visible location like many non-agricultural businesses. If they are far away from urban areas, they can sell at farmers markets, or offer agritourism experiences. Many people want to get out of town and feel like they are going on an adventure; they are willing to drive a little.
Keys to a successful farm business
Select enterprises that are suited to your land and resources. Work with your UF IFAS Extension Agents and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to find agricultural enterprises that will work for your individual situation. Overstocking animals on small acreage or cutting down healthy, mature trees to grow crops on an acre, for example, aren’t going to be the most sustainable use of your land.
A farm business must be profitable to be sustainable. Money may not be your primary motivation for farming, but if profit isn’t your primary business goal, you won’t be able to afford to keep doing it. Do a cost analysis of any enterprise to find out if it can be profitable before you start.
Build trust with your customers. Be transparent about your production methods and products. Help consumers understand how their food is grown. Don’t sell something you didn’t produce as your own.
Keep good records. You need to know how much time, money and resources you are investing into production to know if you are making a profit. Thorough records will also help you apply for loans or Agricultural Lands Classification for tax purposes.
Be adaptable. You can plan well, learn hard and work smart, but you can’t control the weather, pests or economy. However, you can survive most anything if you’re willing to adapt.
You got this
We’re here to help you start or grow your farm-based business. Considering a farm or food business but don’t know where to start? Learn about Regulations, Crops and Livestock, Business Planning Basics, and Selling your Farm and Food Products. Join us at our Small Farm Success workshop – Sept. 15th – Kissimmee, FL. For information on gardening and farming in Osceola County, FL, call us: 321-697-3000.