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(Updated April 2016)

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)

- EBSCO articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the EBSCO Access Information 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?

Understanding America’s Diverse Family Farms (Amber Waves, Jan.-Feb. 2016).  

USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Help Agricultural Producers Increase the Value of Their Products, (United States Department of Agriculture, April 8, 2016).

A Beginning Farmer’s Checklist for Buying a Small Farm, (Hobby Farms, March 4, 2016).

5 Zoning Issues You Need to Be Aware of Before Buying Farm Land, (Homes Blog, March 3, 2016).

How many acres do you need for a hobby farm or homestead?, (Rethink Rural, 2016).

The Rise of the Backyard Farm (REALTOR® Magazine, July 2015).

Think you could hack it as a farmer? Read this first, (Grist, April 30, 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).

Financing Farm Property

Farm Financial Management and Financing Resources, (New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, 2016).

Farmland leasing good option for new farmers, (Poughkeepsie Journal, April 7, 2016).

Farm Loan Programs, (United States Department of Agriculture - Farm Service Agency, 2015)

Funding Resources (Loans/Grants), (BeginningFarmers.org, 2015).

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

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

Agricultural Property Values

Agricultural Economist Evaluates Rural Economy, (AG Web, April 25, 2016).

Farmland Value Guide, (AG Web, 2016).

Land Values: 2015 Summary, (United States Department of Agriculture, Aug. 2015).

How Much Is the U.S. Worth?, (Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2015).

The Speculative Value of Farm Real Estate, (The Journal of Real Estate Research, April-June 2014). E

Hobby Farms

What Can I Do With My Small Farm? (Oregon State University Extension, Feb. 2016).

8 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Your Hobby Farm, (Grit, Feb. 22, 2016).

The Real Cost Of Your Roast Chicken, (Hobby Farms, Nov. 12, 2015).

More city dwellers are embracing 'hobby farms', (LA Times, July 24, 2015).

Raising Chickens for Egg Production, (Extension, May 5, 2015).

Farm Legislation

Agricultural Act of 2014, (United States Department of Agriculture, Jan. 30, 2015).

Progress on 2014 Farm Bill Implementation, (United States Department of Agriculture, April 17, 2015).

Payment Limitation and Payment Eligibility; Actively Engaged in Farming (Proposed Rule Summary), (United States Department of Agriculture - Farm Service Agency, March 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 (United States Department of Agriculture)

Cooperative Extension System Offices (United States Department of Agriculture)

Farm Beginnings Program, (Land Stewardship Project).

Farmer Mac

Farm Loan Programs (United States Department of Agriculture - Farm Service Agency)

Find Your Local USDA Office (United States Department of Agriculture).

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

Publication 225 (2015), Farmer's Tax Guide, (Internal Revenue Service).

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.