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(Updated May 2015)

On the surface, buying a farm has a very 'get away from it all' sort of appeal. The reality is that farming can be emotionally and financially stressful with success dependent upon many variables, including the weather, taxes, domestic and foreign competition, etc. The rewards, however, can be considerable. This field guide explores the pros and cons of owning farm property. (S. Hogan, Manager, Library & Archives)

- ProQuest articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the ProQuest/Find Articles page

Highlights From the Census of Agriculture

click image to enlarge

Faces of Agriculture

Source: The Faces of U.S. Agriculture, (USDA.gov). Also see more 2012 Census of Agriculture Infographics.

So You Want to Buy a Farm?

Real rural development is in local food (The Daily Republic, Apr. 16, 2015).

Funding expanded for ag programs, (Echo Press, Mar. 25, 2015).

Northeast Beginning Farmer’s Field Guide: A Beginners Guide for Young Farmers, (Cornell University Cooperative Extension/Greenhorns, 2012).

Small Farm Business Advice for Beginning Farmers,  (BeginningFarmers.org, 2011).

Farm Wisdom: Managing Risk on Small Farms Video Series, (Washington State Department of Agriculture, 2011).

Managing Risks on Your Small Farm, (Cornell Small Farms Program, n.d.).

The greenhorns guide for beginning farmers, (The Greenhorns, 2010).

Financing Farm Property

Taking It to the Bank (Agriculture.com, Apr. 14, 2015).

Beginning Farmer Kick Starts Operation to Provide Local Produce Year-Round, (USDA Blog, Apr. 2, 2015).

Farm and Ranch Mortgage Loans, (FarmerMac, 2014).

Farm Loan Programs, (FSA.USDA.gov, 2015)

Funding Resources (Loans/Grants), (BeginningFarmers.org, 2014).

Ag Finance 101: How to Choose the Right Lender, (AG Web, May 27, 2013).

Farm Banks Increased Agricultural Loans in 2010, (Texas Banking, Aug. 2011). Q

Agricultural Property Values

How Much Is the U.S. Worth?, (WSJ, Apr. 22, 2015).

Regional Land Value Reports, (Farmers National Company, 2015).  

Dirt Cheap? Investors Are Plowing Into Farmland, Here's Why, (Forbes, Sep. 23, 2014).

The Speculative Value of Farm Real Estate, (The Journal of Real Estate Research, Apr.-Jun. 2014). Q

Real farm: The speculative opportunity of land values, (Futures, Apr. 2014). Q

The Ag Report, (Texas Banking, Mar. 2014). Q

Hobby Farms

Top 10 Tips for Starting Your Hobby Farm, (About.com, 2014).

How to Start an Egg Business, (HobbyFarms.com, Summer 2010).

How Much Does it Cost to Run a Small Farm?, (Weed & Reap, n.d.)

Starting a Small Hobby Farm, (SouthernStates.com, n.d.).

8 Tips for Beginner Farmers' Market Vendors, (HobbyFarms.com, n.d.).

Farm Legislation

Agricultural Act of 2014, (USDA, Jan. 30, 2015).

Progress on 2014 Farm Bill Implementation, (USDA, Apr. 17, 2015).

Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility; Actively Engaged in Farming (Proposed Rule Summary), (USDA FSA, Mar. 26, 2015).

H.R. 1727: Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2013, (govtrack.us)            

Food for Thought: Healthy Food Financing Initiative in Farm Bill, (The Food Trust, May 22, 2013). 

Useful Websites

Agricultural Statistics by State, (National Agriculture Statistics Service).

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers

Beginning Farmers

Census of Agriculture (USDA.gov)

Cooperative Extension System Offices (USDA.gov)

Farm Beginnings Program, (Land Stewardship Project).

Farmer Mac

Farm Loan Programs (FSA.USDA.gov)

Find Your Local USDA Office (USDA.gov).

Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, (Florida State University College of Law).

Publication 225 (2013), Farmer's Tax Guide, (IRS.gov).

Small Farm Funding Resources, (USDA Rural Information Center).

eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Finding Good Farmland (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

The Back to Basics Handbook: A Guide to Buying and Working Land, Raising Livestock, Enjoying Your Harvest, Household Skills and Crafts, and More (Adobe eReader)

Buying Country Land (Adobe eBook)

The profitable hobby farm: How to build a sustainable local foods business (Adobe eBook)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Services. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Services at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

Farm appraisal principles, (Austin, TX: Sunbelt Eakin Press, 2002). HD 1393 Su8f

The appraisal of rural property, (Chicago, IL: The Appraisal Institute, 2000). HD 1393 Am3a

Appraisal & review guide for rural properties, (Alexandria, MN: The Appraisal Institute, 2000). HD 1387 M57

Living off the fat of the land, (New York, NY: Vantage Press, 2001). HG 4521 Ad7

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Land Investment

Field Guide to Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs)

Field Guide to Water Rights & Resource Issues

Information Services Blog

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.