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Field Guide to Agricultural/Farm Land

(Updated May 2014)

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, Information & Web Content Specialist)

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?

We’re Losing Mid-Sized Family Farms (Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, May 9, 2014).

The Conservation Reserve Program Goes to Work for Beginning Farmers (National Young Farmers’ Coalition, Apr. 23, 2013).

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).

Want to Make More than a Banker? Become a Farmer!, (Time, July 10, 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

Farm Lending Back Up for First Quarter 2014, (Farm Futures, May 1, 2014).

USDA Announces Funding to Train and Educate Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers, (USDA.gov, Apr. 11, 2014).

Farm Loan Programs, (FSA.USDA.gov, 2014)

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loans, (USDA Farm Service Agency, 2014).

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

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

Property: A Bundle of Sticks or a Tree? (Vanderbilt Law Review, Apr. 2013). Q

Green Pastures, (Valuation, Q 2013). Q

The Next Real Estate Bubble Has Already Begun, (But It’s Not What You Think), (Time, May 23, 2013).

Corn and Soybean Prices Driving Up Land Values and Farmer's Tax Bills, (Innovation Trail, May 23, 2013).

Are Farmland Prices Headed Towards A Plateau? (Farm Futures, May 21, 2013).

Farmland Price Boom Continues, but Pace Moderates, (Wall Street Journal blogs, May 15, 2013).

Hobby Farms

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

‘Hobby Farms’ Tilt AG Census, (AgriNews, May 10, 2014).

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

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 2013, (House Committee on Agriculture, 2014).

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, (fb.org).

American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, (ASFMRA.org).

Beginning Farmers (beginningfarmers.org)

Census of Agriculture (USDA.gov)

Cooperative Extension System Offices (USDA.gov)

Farm Beginnings Program, (Land Stewardship Project).

Farmer Mac, (FarmerMac.com).

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:

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 Central. 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 Central 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

InfoCentral 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.