Agricultural Trends?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by FarmTrackMind, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. FarmTrackMind

    FarmTrackMind Member

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    Just curious where newbies research when they know they want to make a homestead but they have no clue about markets and trends for the things their farm could produce. How can guys like me find out "what's hot" not only now but what the statistics promise might still be hot 50 years from now?

    Not looking for a genie in a bottle and nothing is sure after all, but we have to start somewhere.

    John
     
  2. petefarms

    petefarms Well-Known Member

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    check with the local agricultural or even state ag offices, local cooperative estension. look up grassman stock farmer, country folks, hoards dairyman and also after research, trust to your own instincts and what you are looking to accomplish.
     

  3. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't start out by worrying about 50 years from now. To get a good perspective on that go and find some farm magazines from 50 years ago and look at the issues armers were grappling with. While some are the same, a lot of things are different.

    MARKETING! MARKETING! MARKETING! Most farmers are price takers. That is, they produce commodity crops and the price they get is what the market offers minus the cost of transporting their product to market.

    We currently produce about 1,200 lbs of honey per year. From a production perspective we could increase to about 10,000 lbs per year very quickly. We would go from selling retail at $5 per pound to having to sell the additional production at bulk prices which are slightly above $1 per pound. Until we expand our market it makes no sense to increase our production. It would also take away time from our efforts to develop our nut production. we are still working out the production and processing of the nuts - collecting, hulling, drying, cracking seperating nutmeat from shells, packaging, etc.

    When you start producing larger quantities you have a whole bunch of issues to deal with. Just a few nuts means you can just toss the hulls. What do you do when you are talking tons of hulls? Did you know that large quantities of black walnut hulls get so hot (due to the high moisture content) that you will find ashes in the middle of that compost pile?

    One thing that goes with marketing is adding value. The average farmer has been getting a smaller and smaller share of the end purchasers dollar. By adding value and/or selling direct to the end purchaser you can capture more of that food dollar.

    A final thought. If the advice of government experts is so good, why are so many farmers going out of business? I think the advice is changing (for the better) but there is still something of a herd instinct.

    As usual, just my 2 cents.

    Mike
     
  4. bachelorb

    bachelorb Well-Known Member

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    Take a look here.
    ATTRA

    They have a lot of good info. When I got started there were a lot of up and coming industries. I had to work out for myself what was best for me. I did pretty well with goats and chickens. Lousy with rabbits and vermiculture.

    I hate marketing (and I do agree this is where the real money is), so I concentrating on building up a meat goat herd to sell at the local sale barn. Which brings up the point of what do they have in the area. If its 200 miles away to sell your product, can you afford the gas and still make a profit?

    A great book to get or check out from the library is Joel Salatins " you can farm" or something like that. He tells you step by step how to do it, in words even I can understand.
     
  5. FarmTrackMind

    FarmTrackMind Member

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    This is great advice, thank you guys. There's enough research there to keep me busy for quite a while. Never really ran a business myself, I'm starting to see the basics of it, what I'm picking up from you and the reading I'm doing is know my market, know my place in it, economize in production, make sure my labor hours are being converted into good value for me, maybe better to underproduce than overproduce (optimize production), add value as much as possible, and learn the techniques and the hidden joys and pitfalls of whatever I decide to produce (I would never have guessed that big pile of black walnut husks could be a fire hazard, for example).
    John
     
  6. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    FarmTrackMind,
    If you are considering going into full time farming consider this.

    A fox is looking for a rabbit and if you are a farmer which had you rather be, fox or rabbit?

    Right off fox comes to mind doesn't it?
    In this dog eat dog world of farming being the fox will get you bankrupt right quick.
    The reason, the fox is just seeking a quick easy meal. The rabbit on the other hand is running for its life! That is the attitude that you must accept to remain sound.

    The more that I become aware in the ag business the more convinced that what the masses are doing is bass ackwards from what should be done. I am convinced that in a world where the farmer buys retail and sells wholesale that being the low cost producer is the only way to survive without going on the governement giveaway programs. As a cattle producer I am told in all the magazines to get big brood stock and to produce big calves by buying high end animals. It is a known, but little recognized fact, that smaller animals will produce more meat per acre and that smaller animals will finish at an earlier age with less grain. This rambling is just to acknowledge that you need to look at any venture from all angles. If you want to be successful emulate someone that is, not just someone that appears to be.
     
  7. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    they way i've got it figured is- farmng (and homesteading) is something that is in the blood. you either love the life or you don't. the rest of it is everyone's attempt at making a living doing what they love to do.

    i may be dead wrong, and will glady hear disagreements on this, but to think of farming as way to make money, is probably the wrong way to come at it.
     
  8. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    I guess I never thought about marketing. I always associated homesteading with living off the land. raising your own produce, and stocking up for the lean times.
     
  9. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    AMEN!!!!!!!!!
    If you dont love hard labor, long hours,and animals then dont farm, or homestead. there is no money in either
     
  10. edcopp

    edcopp Well-Known Member

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    It is very simple. Go to the bank and borrow a million dollars. Then farm till the money is all gone. Then if the bank will loan you another million you have just become a farmer.

    A better way I think would be to become "self sufficiant" first. A little at a time as you can. Then when you have met your own needs, you can farm for a hobby if you must. It looks very much like most of the foodstuffs and supplies produced in the future will be produced by workers who are willing to work for a lot less money than Americans. China, India and South America are already big players in our food supplies. Can you compete with them? I doubt it. It looks like income will be distributed around the globe, thus in general lowering our income in the U.S. One way to deal with this problem is to become more self sufficient.

    It would not surprise me to see corn raised in South America and shipped to the U.S. to be burned in corn burning stoves in the future. Now if I can build some sort of solar collector that keeps me warm without another heat source then I will do O.K. without growing or shipping corn. :sing:
     
  11. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    actually, i am hopeful that there is a trend toward foods that are grown locally. the quality is much higher, and with gas prices, it won't be economically feasible to ship foods long distances any more.
     
  12. Gideon's War

    Gideon's War Well-Known Member

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    Not to hijack the thread..but if you being the producers (this is directed to all of you) had someone to sell to (not ness. a sale barn but a marketing person who woud send customers whom you could either sell directly yourproduct to them (if you choose to) or you could sell the whole carcass to) would this be attractive? That yway you are staying in your core competancy and not getting into the sales end. Any thoughts?
     
  13. sros990

    sros990 Member

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    This article may give you some good ideas:

    eesc.orst.edu/agcomwebfile/edmat/EC1529.pdf
     
  14. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    Agreed They are both wonderful
     
  15. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

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    I make enough money on my farm to support us. Thankfully I don't have to because my husband has a job, but we can live on what I make if we had to. I also work about three hours a week for an online magazine. We aren't "industrial" farmers. We don't have hundreds of acres of monocrops that require a lot of expensive equipment. You gave the answer to how I farm successfully in a post further down.

    That's the answer for me. I produce and sell for my community. Diversity - I start with seedlings in the spring, vegetables and fruits into late fall, Christmas wreaths in late November into December. Value added - certified kitchen where I make preserves, pickles, bread and other baked goods. I went to farmers market for three years. This year we're opening a small store/large farmstand on the farm. I live in the middle of no where so it has taken a while to build up enough customers to be able to not go to market. I'll miss market. I enjoyed it a lot but it's a 30 mile drive outside my community.

    Buying Locally Produced Foods: http://www.farm-garden.com/cornucopia/buying_locally_produced_foods

    Locally produced items, including non-food items, is important.
     
  16. Ken in Maine

    Ken in Maine Well-Known Member

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    My opinion is don't be looking for the next hottest trend or even what will be in vogue in 50 years.... do what you want to do... raise the crops/livestock that interest you and believe me the consumer will find you... especially if you raise quality!!!!!

    There are no get rich schemes... everything takes time, effort, and desire.

    You will have good days and bad days but over the course of a year it will all even out. You will have days that are very discouraging and you'll have days that you're in 7th Heaven. That's why you have to do something you love and not be worried about the "next hot trend".

    Live for today and let tomorrow worry about itself. Do what you enjoy doing and be happy with the results.
     
  17. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    what kills me about farming is the pressure of harvest season. it is overwhelming for one person to deal with harvesting and maybe the processing. black raspberries are one example. i have good berries. but we always seem to get rain the week they are ready. if i do not pick them in the six hour window of good weather before the storm, i lose everything to fungus. if i do get them picked and i have no market present, i need to make jelly. i never seem to get my money back for jelly. no one here wants to pay$4 or $5 a jar for jelly they can get for $2 at foodlion. yes i know mine is better. marketing takes as much work as farming.
     
  18. donsgal

    donsgal Nohoa Homestead

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    YOu can't go wrong with ORGANIC. Especially if you live near a big town full of "lah de dah" types in mcmansions and such. They just adore that Organic stuff. YOu can put a pretty mean price on it and still get plenty of buyers from these folks. That's what we're gonna do with our homestead. Make a killing at farmers markets full of apartment dwellers who wouldn't know a cucumber from a rutabaga. LOL

    donsgal
     
  19. donsgal

    donsgal Nohoa Homestead

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    I agree with you completely. But if you can make some money besides - well more power to you. But I don't expect you will ever get rich.

    donsgal
     
  20. tsdave

    tsdave Grand Marshal

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    Sell a service, you cant compete with the production efficiencies of a well run 10,000+ acre farm.

    What service ? What do the locals want ? What do the locals need ?
    You make more for your effort selling what they want, but people always need
    what they need.

    What services ? Maybe bed and breakfast. Maybe some sort of 'farm rental' for
    photo shoots or weddings etc. Perhaps sell daily fishing to stocked ponds. Maybe
    some sort of horse boarding service. Heck, maybe even a cattle boarding service.
    Maybe a 'retirement' farm for old pet livestock. Then there are always crafts.
    I cant imagine makeing useless crafts, but some like them. I would pick maybe
    custom furniture such as chairs, tables, bookshelves etc. Example, somebody wants
    a table and chairs just like they had when they were little. Weird, but i know people
    who traveled along way to buy their old tables and stuff from when they were children. You may even be able to sell vegetable gardening service, their dirt,you plant, you weed, you water, you pick, they eat. Charge per hour of work. Sounds funny but alot of well to dos would like to have a beautiful vegetable garden.

    You could sell brush hogging service, haying service, brush clearing service, combining service. Theres the age old mechanic service.

    I would pick a service that caters to the wealthy, they have the money, they want stuff. Better stuff than they can get at wal-mart. They make 50K+ / year ( i know thats really not alot but its 5X a homesteaders salary !) They dont want to mow their lawn, rake their leave, fix their faucets, plunge their toilets, or be bothered with any sort of breakdown, they pay someone to come take the old one, bring the new one, and hook it up. Probably a tip too if the workers are nice.

    I guarantee at least one statement is at least half true. :)