A Resource Guide for Beginning Farmers in Oklahoma
If you are considering becoming a farmer or rancher in Oklahoma, then you are about to embark on a journey. As with any long trip, your first step is to plan where you will go and how you will get there. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (OCES) at Oklahoma State University has developed this resource guide to help beginning farmers understand the steps needed to achieve the dream of having their own farm. The first and most important step you should take in beginning a farm is to carefully research the property and planned enterprises before investing. While conducting research about the physical property and possible enterprises, consider your family and business values along with the mission and goals for the farm. What is it that you are setting out to do? Because the farm business often involves the whole family, it is best for the goal setting process to involve each member of the family. The family and the business are generally intertwined; thus, family goals and business goals should be set jointly. Goals should be challenging, yet achievable and specific enough that you can write them down and measure your progress toward them. It is crucial to identify the type of farming enterprise you want. Economists at Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Tim Woods and Steve Isaacs, emphasize that new or expanding enterprises should not focus on what to produce, but should instead concentrate on how to select the right enterprise. They advocate a more thorough approach because, in their experience, success or failure often depends on a lot more than just the choice of what to produce. They suggest these six factors to drive the decision: profitability, resources, information, marketing, enthusiasm and risk. One of the most basic issues you must address if you are considering farming is how much you expect the farm to contribute to your family’s living expenses. Land purchasers frequently overestimate the income potential from agricultural enterprises. If you do not yet have a handle on your farm’s financial potential, then you need to assemble a financial plan for your operation.
Finally, this guide offers advice and resources in regards to other factors that a start-up farmer should consider such as: financial planning, acquiring farm capital, education and training, finding land for farming, understanding land use regulations and restrictions, marketing, tax considerations, and government programs.