Discovering the Positive Impact of Zimbabwe‘s Animal Farm: A Guide to Harnessing its Power!
A farmer is someone who grows food and raises livestock with the intention of mass production. In this article, we describe what farmers do, explain the six crucial skills they need to have to be successful and list eight steps for how to become a farmer.
What is a farmer?
Many farmers inherit their land and continue the family tradition of farming. People who own or manage their land but did not grow up in a farming family, are known as first-generation farmers.
The daily responsibilities of a farmer will vary depending on whether they are growing crops or raising livestock, and the size of the farm. Here are some common duties:
Plant and harvest crops
Feed and care for livestock
Sell crops and livestock at market
Maintain land and equipment in good condition
Stay current on all farming regulations and laws
Keep track of accounting processes, including payroll, sales, expenses and income
What is the average salary for a farmer?
The average salary for a farmer can vary depending on many factors, including where you live, what products you produce and the size of your farm. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, please click on the salary link below.
The average annual salary for farm managers is $51,064 per year.
What does a farmer do?
While some farmers grow food and raise livestock, other farmers produce raw materials for textiles or products, such as cotton.
Depending on the industry, a farmer’s job may entail planting fruits and vegetables, soil management and rotation, harvesting crops, the use of heavy machinery and animal husbandry. Here is a list of 13 farming industries a person might choose to work in:
How to become a farmer
Here are eight steps to take if you are interested in becoming a farmer:
1. Research different farming careers
The first step in becoming a farmer is to research the various farming careers available. Some people run commercial farms in which massive quantities of food, food products, raw materials or livestock are distributed to people around the country. Other people run small farms and focus on serving a local community or niche demographic. For example, a beekeeper, micro farmer or urban farmer may focus on providing goods for people within a particular community.
Some people decide they want to run a farm that thrives on community involvement and engagement. For example, farms and vineyards where you can pick your own fruits often hold events and charge admission fees.
Take time to research how many farms are in your area. You can also find valuable career information online or by attending first-generation farming seminars. Conducting this preliminary research can help you narrow your options and identify your interests.
2. Talk to people who work in farming industries
After conducting research on the types of farms available, you will likely have a short list of career choices in farming that interest you. Use this list to identify who you should speak with in the farming industry. If you’re most interested in potentially running an urban farm, a pick-your-own type of farm or vineyard, find people who already run those types of businesses.
You might call a farming business and schedule an informational interview or you ask a few casual questions when you visit your local farmer’s market. In your research, make sure to ask questions about the farmer’s daily routine, their expectations, when they started and if they are happy with their career to gain valuable insight to use in your career planning.
3. Apply to an entry-level position
Whether you’ve narrowed your selection to one job or multiple, the next step is to apply for an entry-level position. Having farming experience before you make any major life changes or invest large sums of money can help you determine if this is the right career path for you. Also, you can use your entry-level position to forge professional connections, develop your skills, find a mentor and potentially secure a mid-level farming job.
Here is a list of entry-level farming positions you might want to consider:
4. Educate yourself about farming
Professional farmers do not have set educational requirements. However, if you wish to own your own farm or manage a farm, you may benefit from earning an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in agricultural sciences, farm business, sustainability or botany. A degree in science or business can help you understand the intricacies of farming, as well as the economic and financial aspects of running a farm.
It is important to take the time to educate yourself about the farming process, how to use the equipment and tools and what to expect from this career. In lieu of, or in addition to, your two or four-year degree program, you can educate yourself on farming by reading books, attending certification courses or seminars and conducting online research.
5. Research USDA Beginning Farmers loans and microloans
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are a variety of loan programs and services for people who want to begin farming and those with existing farms. You can research these loan and microloan options by visiting the USDA Farm Service Agency. Applying for a loan or micro loan can secure up to $1,776,000 of financing for commercial farmers and beginning farmers and up to $100,000 of microloan financing for people looking to start a niche farming business.
6. Get organized
Create a business plan and a business model which formally plans for costs, spending, production goals and estimated profits. Your plans should include information about where you would like to start your farm and whether relocation is necessary.
Track all of your expenses and income, and keep a ledger of your transactions with suppliers.
7. Purchase your equipment
There are specific machines, equipment and tools you’ll need to get started with your farming business. Based on your research, business plan and financial calculations, you can now source and purchase the equipment that you’ll need to maintain your farm. For example, you may need tractors, plows, harvesters, hay balers or mills.
8. Hire a farming crew
The last step in readying your new farm for operation is to find and train a team of capable employees. Research the specific farming industry you wish to work in, and the roles essential to that type of business. You will likely need to fill multiple full-time and part-time roles.
Skills needed for a career in farming
Here are six skills needed for a successful career in farming:
1. Tenacity and grit
Tenacity and grit are used to describe a person’s perseverance and ability to face challenges. Starting a career in farm management is physically laborious and takes a lot of time and effort.
2. Business management
Business management involves the coordination of business operations, goals and practices. Owning or managing a farm requires that a person have a strong understanding of math, business ethics and entrepreneurship.
3. Organization and time management
Organization and time management refer to a person’s ability to best use their time, space and energy. These skills are crucial for running a farming business, as certain tasks must be completed within specific time frames to avoid wasted produce or products.
4. Understanding of earth science and sustainability
Earth science is the study of the earth and its chemical and physical makeup, and sustainability is the practice and study of preserving land, water and other natural resources. As a farmer, these principles are crucial for the operation of a successful farm.
5. Ability to operate heavy machinery
Many farming industries involve the operation of heavy machinery. It is important for farm owners and managers to know how to operate, maintain and repair these machines.
6. Strong judgment
Having strong judgment means having exceptional foresight and the ability to make good decisions. As a farm owner or business manager, you will be responsible for hiring staff members, managing schedules and making choices about suppliers and supplies. For success in these areas, it’s important for you to have sound judgment.
Farmer Skills: Definition and Examples
As an aspiring farmer, it’s important to work on your skill set for this particular profession. Not only can improving your farmer skills help you in future interviews, but it can also help you on the job. In this article, we explain what farmer skills are, provide examples, offer suggestions on how to improve them and list tips on how to highlight them in the job application and interview process.
What are farmer skills?
Farmer skills refer to the expertise, talents or abilities you have that help you perform a farmer’s daily duties. Key farmer skills include problem-solving, interpersonal, farm management and organizational skills. You can use these skills to use in a variety of ways, from communicating with farmhands to tending crops and repairing machinery. Having these skills can help you in the farming profession and help you stand out among other job applicants.
Examples of farmer skills
Farmers need a diverse set of skills in order to perform their jobs efficiently and successfully. Here are some examples of different skills you need as a farmer:
As a trial-and-error profession, farming requires strong problem-solving skills. For example, a farmer often looks for the best ways to raise their harvest their crops. When unexpected weather occurs, it can cause harvesting delays. As a farmer, it’s important to know how to react and how to make effective decisions in this type of scenario. With strong problem-solving skills, you’re able to ensure a productive season no matter the unpredictable situations that arise.
Mechanical and repairing
Farmers need to maintain a wide variety of farming equipment and tools that help them perform their duties. Because this task comes at unpredictable times, it’s important to have general mechanical skills. Having the ability to make regular repairs to things like buildings and equipment prevents farmers from having to rely on a repair professional. This allows them to save money and the time they would’ve spent waiting for a repairman.
As a farmer, you often lead farmhands through the completion of their duties. Having effective communication and compassion helps motivate them. Strong coaching abilities also help them complete their duties.
Interpersonal skills also help farmers effectively interact with buyers. For example, their interpersonal skills allow them to negotiate better rates for their animals. In addition, their interpersonal skills help them build a community that may provide them access to things like loaner equipment or supplies as needed.
Depending on the season, farmers may work from sunrise to sunset. If you take too much time off, you may miss out on a good harvesting opportunity. Good farmers need time management skills to operate efficiently and consistently in order to meet market demand.
Health and physical stamina
Farmers spend much of their day on-the-go, standing, lifting, hauling and pulling a variety of objects and machinery. Therefore, it’s imperative to have good physical stamina in order to endure extremely strenuous activities. You’re also required to perform these duties during a variety of weather conditions including intense heat and cold temperatures. These temperatures may make these tasks even harder to execute. Being healthy and having strong physical stamina makes it easier to complete these tasks efficiently.
Both farmers and organic farmers need good organizational skills to keep accurate records of a variety of paperwork. Some of this paperwork includes invoices, warranties, labor contracts and payroll. As an organic farmer, it’s especially important to keep track of your certification paperwork. While you can always hire someone to take care of this paperwork, it’s important to have these abilities as part of your skill set—especially in your early years of farming.
Even if you work on or own a small farm and have few people to supervise, it helps to have strong management skills. From managing farmhands to business associates, management skills allow you to interact and supervise various parties with greater success and efficiency.
As a farmer, it’s important to remain flexible and adaptable when facing unexpected conditions or scenarios. Keep in mind that while what you learn in school may help you prepare for a career as a farmer, it’s not the same as a full, in-person farming experience.
It’s also important to remain adaptive when it comes to the business of farming. Your skill in this regard helps you adapt to the changing industry and changing consumer demands. Remaining adaptable ensures you know how to face these new obstacles by adopting new techniques or methods and predicting upcoming challenges.
While you don’t need to purchase every new technological device, it’s important to have a knowledge of new technological advancements as they relate to agriculture. For example, it’s important to know about new advancements regarding pesticide use, irrigation and ways to improve cultivation, harvest, storage and transportation.
While it may seem obvious, it’s important for farmers to have a strong understanding of the farming and agriculture industry at large. General farming skills allow them to perform their daily duties on the farm with ease. This can include duties like raising livestock or cultivating the land.
How to improve farmer skills
Whether you want to learn new skills or improve your current ones, you have several different approaches you can take. Improving your skills can help you remain more competitive and prosperous in this field. Use these tips to help you improve your farmer skills:
1. Stay up-to-date with the industry
As a farmer, it helps to have professional knowledge about the farming industry. Improve your skills for this profession by staying up-to-date with everything from marketing techniques and field operations to production technology and machinery. Having this knowledge can help you plan for both your short- and long-term goals.
2. Improve your relationships
Strengthen your interpersonal skills by improving your relationships with your colleagues and others involved in the business. Doing so can aid your ability to communicate, resolve conflicts, negotiate, delegate and persuade. These skills can help you become a better farmer overall.
3. Build a community
Consider forming alliances with other farmers to expand your knowledge and skills. Understanding their common practices can help you improve your own. Consider learning from your own colleagues or indirect competitors. Discussing your trade openly can help you identify weak areas in terms of your skill set and even the farm’s operational processes.
Farmer skills in the workplace
As a farmer, you have many opportunities to show and even improve your skills on the job. Use these tips to improve your farmer skills in the workplace:
Cultivate a teamwork atmosphere. To improve your communication and interpersonal skills, aim to create a teamwork environment. Working alongside other farmers toward a common goal can help you not only improve your relationships and interactions with them, but also the success and profitability of the farm.
Keep practicing. Learn how to improve your skills by continuously working at them. For example, if you want to improve your ability to make successful machinery repairs, continue performing similar repairs to get more accustomed to them and to perfect your craft. Simply learn by doing.
Be receptive to feedback. When working on a farm, other farmers may provide you with helpful advice and guidance. Accept any feedback they provide and use it to grow in your profession. Even if it’s negative feedback, work on being more receptive and using their advice to your advantage.
How to highlight farmer skills
If you’re applying for a job as a farmer, the application and interview process give you many opportunities to highlight your relevant skills. Use these tips for highlighting your farmer skills on your resume, cover letter and during a job interview:
Farmer skills for resume
As you detail your previous job duties in the experience section of your resume, look for ways to include your farming skills. For example, as a farmer, you can explain how you used your technology skills to help you with a certain task. You can also add a skills section to your resume to directly mention your farmer skills as they relate to the job you’re applying for.
Farmer skills for cover letter
Use your cover letter to provide greater detail about the skills you mentioned in your resume. For example, if you mentioned your adaptability, use your cover letter to provide the hiring manager with an example or anecdote of how this skill helped you on the job.
Farmer skills for the job interview
During a job interview, mention your relevant skills to the hiring manager. When they ask you a question, emphasize your unique abilities—especially any skills you saw mentioned in the job post. You can also highlight certain skills simply by your demeanor and actions. For example, you can highlight your time management skills by arriving to the interview on time or you can demonstrate your communication skills by actively listening to what they say and by asking insightful and relevant questions.