Finding, Financing and Purchasing a Farm

Ernest J. Karhu explains how finding, financing, and purchasing a farm is possible with a little cash up front and some ongoing income.

| November/December 1970

Although locating a suitable homestead and obtaining reasonable purchase arrangements may seem difficult, it definitely is possible for almost anyone with a little cash and a steady income to buy a farm today. If you can scrape up enough bread for a down payment, this article should help you find a farm you can afford and arrange a mortgage that you can handle.

Practically all available farmland and land suitable for farming in this country is privately owned. Little government homestead land left in the continental United States is suitable for farming. The few small tracts of public land available from time to time are mostly located in the semi-arid western states and it requires an immense effort and considerable resources to make such acreage pay. The absence of farm buildings, a house, available water, tillable soil and utilities raises many questions about the practicality of such a venture. It's better to consider buying an inexpensive existing farm in a remote area before exploring the purchase of public land.

But, if you're dead-set on homesteading, buying or leasing government land—or if you've located a tract suitable for farming—write to the Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, Washington, D. C. 20240. The lease or purchase of public land is authorized by the Public Sale Act of 1964; Public Law 88-608; 78 STAT 988. Homesteads are granted following a personal inspection of the land provided that the tract has been classified as suitable for farming by the Bureau of Land Management. Remember, though, you'll need cash to build a shelter and develop even the free land.

New land suitable for farming may be developed by improved drainage, irrigation or reclamation projects conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior. Such land is often sold immediately (Usually to large "development" corporations that have an inside pipeline to the most desirable chunks of property if the large holdings recently opened in coastal North Carolina, Louisiana and other states are any indication—JS). When private land affected by reclamation projects is offered for sale, the project manager should be consulted to determine whether or not such land will actually benefit by the project.

There is much land suitable for homesteads in Alaska but, until the federal government settles all existing claims against it by the natives of that state (this settlement is to be made early in 1971), new homestead grants are being withheld. Further information about public land in Alaska may be obtained from the Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, Washington, D. C. 20240; Manager, Land Office, Anchorage, Alaska 99501; or Manager, Land Office, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701.  

The vast majority of farms and farm tracts purchased in the United States are bought from private owners and are usually financed by mortgages. The acreage is usually located through advertisements in small area newspapers, major Sunday papers, shopping guides, farm journals and farm real estate listings.

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