How to Buy Farmland, Even If You Think You Can’t

Dream of starting a farm? Here’s a guide to what questions to ask and where to find reliable answers, plus resources to help you obtain a farm loan.

| October/November 2012

How to Buy Farmland

Sometimes, it only takes an afternoon drive down a country lane to find the farmland of your dreams.

Illustration By Elayne Sears

For those of us who were born to farm but, alas, not born on a farm, the ache to have your own land can be so intense you feel it in your belly. I thought it could never happen for me.

But now, after 20 years of farming and 15 years of interviewing farmers, I’m pretty sure that almost anyone can find and buy farmland by doing four things:

1. Be clear and realistic about the budget you’ll need to support yourself and your farm, and about how you’ll get the income you need.

2. Do your homework on the neighborhood and the land you’re looking at to make sure it suits you and the type of farming you want to do.

3. Think outside the box: Be open to different options and timetables for buying land.

4. If you apply for a loan, find out what mortgage lenders require from borrowers and get those requirements in order.
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maddy who
11/7/2012 5:36:18 PM

Does anyone know if you buy property designated agricultural and don't want to farm - can you lease out the farmland to someone who will farm it and still retain the agricultural designation? I would like to buy some property at a reasonable price, but can't do the farming. I'd like to lease most of it to an organic farmer.

nathan ryder
10/25/2012 11:22:07 AM

When I saw this article in the daily newsletter I got excited. My wife and I are writing a business plan to buy a farm and are stuck at how we will make this work with financing. I was hoping Ann Hansen would go into some actual detail on the different ways people go about buying their farm. While I appreciate the embedded links, I think Mother Earth News needs to expand on the subject of beginning farm financing. I agree with Tom...this was more like a "DUH" article.

tom lane
10/25/2012 1:41:30 AM

Well Duh!!!, that's like writing an article on how to buy a million dollar yacht and saying "just get all things the bank wants in order so they will give you the loan!!!" - Brilliant!

dairy goat


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