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Owning a farm with limited cash flow, saving $ or Increasing income....

Sligh1

Administrator
Staff member
For folks who maybe have smaller farms & on a tight budget or financially conscious..... Here's some side tips on some things to look at to increase cash flow or offset a lot of the conservation costs folks do put into the land.... I do get asked these questions a lot & got asked today so I thought I'd post here. Fella who asked me owns maybe 40 or so acres & makes under $50k a year & the ground does not spit out much income. Here's a few ideas.... Others can also chime in..... LIST THAT COMES TO MIND.....

1) Get into FSA & NRCS office... Look into any REAP & EQUIP programs.... Timber stand improvement, edge feathering, etc. The cost share programs are actually so vast it's impossible to list them all. Everything from cost share on terraces, ponds, conservation cover (trees or grasses), etc. ALSO- talk to Private Lands Biologist for your county/area for programs or cost share opportunities.
2) Conservation Stewardship Plan (CSP)..... Doing conservation practices most of you would want to do. Through NRCS office. Fed program. Could be "no till planting & leaving waterways", planting little section of trees, planting a patch of pollinator plants, etc. No brainer!!!! Pays u yearly rate to do things u likely want to do anyways.
3) Can do some TSI & also find guys who will come in BEFORE or AFTER to take your junk trees that need to go. I actually just did this thanks to a member on here. Get the cost share for Timber stand improvement.... In theory a guy could put an "X" on all trees being culled... Firewood cutter uses a vertical grapple & blade (no damage to crop trees!) & pays by the load- for YOUR JUNK! Say, 100-200/acre depending on lots of variables.
4) The obvious is logging but this is a far deeper subject & I don't often see farms that need to START with a log sale. It happens but not 1st course 90% of the time. Most that need a "log sale" - I see and suggest trying to do pallet logs 1st. Or the URGENT saw logs of walnut & oak (or walnuts falling in creek). Long subject on being careful on a walnut or oak sale... & doing TSI after.... But yes, lots of options there.
5) The timber management properly done long term can increase timber sale PER ACRE (done on 15-20 year basis) 5 to 10x over the long run. "Wooded IRA". Start now. *if this is a goal (and hopefully it is because it can be very lucrative/rewarding.... Cows out of timber is CRITICAL!!!!
6) Not much for mineral rights, gas, etc on land here. KS is a different story. Lime rock quarry is a chance but your land is a goner if you go down that route ;).
7) Hay.... If you are really pinching pennys.... see if someone around you would bale your clover or alfalfa if you have any decent amounts. Usually need a good bit but worth checking into... Usually on shares & need to keep up with P&K & lime.
8) Fruit or specialty crop production. Would come from a "passion". Apples, pears, grapes, chestnuts, etc... Longer term investment.... 5-10 years but that's not too bad in reality. Would have to have a love & passion for it.
9) Building soil with extra manure & no till farming.... If you BUILD the soil, you will build a future of higher yields & higher rental rates. The investment pays off well if done right. Minor on smaller farm but still worth mentioning.
10) If you have equipment, doing some projects for neighbors.
11) Check with organizations like pheasants forever, NWTF, etc for seed, conservation project funds, etc.
12) file a schedule F with your accountant. Write offs could include: mileage to/from, machinery, interest, taxes, land expenses, tools, etc etc. accountant familiar with farm accounting can assist with this.

That's 12 off top of my head. What others you guys think of? Love seeing young or new landowners improving farms/land. Lot of guys who spent years saving for their "Dream"..... & Dreams do take $. Personally, I applaud those putting their $ into investments like this. It can create risk & most do it out of a love & passion for land & conservation. 99% of the farms I see folks buy in these scenarios... the land is left far better than they found it. Love seeing the hard working guy save up and buy his little slice of a dream. Any help or feedback for any this may apply to or apply to SOMEDAY appreciated.....
 

IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff member
13. Enroll permanently wooded acres into timber reserve. Current law, taxes go to ZERO on those acres. There are some considerations here so study carefully, but its a no brainier in many cases.
14. Land reclamation for farming. This could be pasture that lays decent with decent CSR. Rent can double in many cases. Or you could have some wet stuff that needs a small investment of dozer work or a lil bit of tile. I've had some cases where the payback is only a few years.
15. I've cut and sold hedge on a couple farms. Spend a day and you can get ALOT done. $10 for lines and $30 for good corners. Adds up in a hurry.
 

BJohnson

Well-Known Member
TSI cost share question - do you need to contact the FSA-NRCS in the county of the farm or any office statewide ??
 

crietveld

Active Member
Totally different approach on my farm. Wife and I own 22 acres of pasture and timber with a big crick splitting it. My wife has a horse business, teaching riding lessons, training and boarding a few client's horses. She also holds shows 3 times a year at the farm.

The land was undeveloped when we bought it, we built a barn with an apartment above it and a garage. The front half is fenced pasture and the back I bale grass hay off what I can.

Deer hunting, the back of my property is a funnel between the neighbor's timbers. I have multiple shooters on camera every fall, the deer have gotten used to all the activity on the farm. Two weeks ago my wife was trail riding her horse out back and had a 170" buck standing on the pond dam watching her.

Obviously this isn't the path for most people but its a nice blend of revenue and hunting that works for us.
 

bwese

Active Member
15. I've cut and sold hedge on a couple farms. Spend a day and you can get ALOT done. $10 for lines and $30 for good corners. Adds up in a hurry.

Thanks for info iowabowhunter, Where did you market yours. I have hundreds of potential posts and am trying to figure out where to sell/market them.
 

Daver

PMA Member
Thanks for info iowabowhunter, Where did you market yours. I have hundreds of potential posts and am trying to figure out where to sell/market them.

If you are asking where to sell fence posts...I don't have any details on what they go for, but I have driven by the auction house in Keosauqua at least a couple of different times in the past and saw dozens of fence posts for sale/auction there.

Knowing nothing more than that, if I had posts to sell, I would contact local auction houses...they must sell plenty of them via that method given the piles of them that I have seen there. Good luck.
 

Hardwood11

It is going to be a good fall!
Tough market to get a good buy right now. Seems like land is much more attractive investment after the election. Hard asset, moving $$$, uncertainty etc...
 

Nrharris

Active Member
Tough market to get a good buy right now. Seems like land is much more attractive investment after the election. Hard asset, moving $$$, uncertainty etc...
Land is nuts here, but ag land not recreational land. A month ago a 240 acre farm a couple miles away brought $14,750 per acre. Absolutely crazy.
 

buckill

Member
For folks who maybe have smaller farms & on a tight budget or financially conscious..... Here's some side tips on some things to look at to increase cash flow or offset a lot of the conservation costs folks do put into the land.... I do get asked these questions a lot & got asked today so I thought I'd post here. Fella who asked me owns maybe 40 or so acres & makes under $50k a year & the ground does not spit out much income. Here's a few ideas.... Others can also chime in..... LIST THAT COMES TO MIND.....

1) Get into FSA & NRCS office... Look into any REAP & EQUIP programs.... Timber stand improvement, edge feathering, etc. The cost share programs are actually so vast it's impossible to list them all. Everything from cost share on terraces, ponds, conservation cover (trees or grasses), etc. ALSO- talk to Private Lands Biologist for your county/area for programs or cost share opportunities.
2) Conservation Stewardship Plan (CSP)..... Doing conservation practices most of you would want to do. Through NRCS office. Fed program. Could be "no till planting & leaving waterways", planting little section of trees, planting a patch of pollinator plants, etc. No brainer!!!! Pays u yearly rate to do things u likely want to do anyways.
3) Can do some TSI & also find guys who will come in BEFORE or AFTER to take your junk trees that need to go. I actually just did this thanks to a member on here. Get the cost share for Timber stand improvement.... In theory a guy could put an "X" on all trees being culled... Firewood cutter uses a vertical grapple & blade (no damage to crop trees!) & pays by the load- for YOUR JUNK! Say, 100-200/acre depending on lots of variables.
4) The obvious is logging but this is a far deeper subject & I don't often see farms that need to START with a log sale. It happens but not 1st course 90% of the time. Most that need a "log sale" - I see and suggest trying to do pallet logs 1st. Or the URGENT saw logs of walnut & oak (or walnuts falling in creek). Long subject on being careful on a walnut or oak sale... & doing TSI after.... But yes, lots of options there.
5) The timber management properly done long term can increase timber sale PER ACRE (done on 15-20 year basis) 5 to 10x over the long run. "Wooded IRA". Start now. *if this is a goal (and hopefully it is because it can be very lucrative/rewarding.... Cows out of timber is CRITICAL!!!!
6) Not much for mineral rights, gas, etc on land here. KS is a different story. Lime rock quarry is a chance but your land is a goner if you go down that route ;).
7) Hay.... If you are really pinching pennys.... see if someone around you would bale your clover or alfalfa if you have any decent amounts. Usually need a good bit but worth checking into... Usually on shares & need to keep up with P&K & lime.
8) Fruit or specialty crop production. Would come from a "passion". Apples, pears, grapes, chestnuts, etc... Longer term investment.... 5-10 years but that's not too bad in reality. Would have to have a love & passion for it.
9) Building soil with extra manure & no till farming.... If you BUILD the soil, you will build a future of higher yields & higher rental rates. The investment pays off well if done right. Minor on smaller farm but still worth mentioning.
10) If you have equipment, doing some projects for neighbors.
11) Check with organizations like pheasants forever, NWTF, etc for seed, conservation project funds, etc.
12) file a schedule F with your accountant. Write offs could include: mileage to/from, machinery, interest, taxes, land expenses, tools, etc etc. accountant familiar with farm accounting can assist with this.

That's 12 off top of my head. What others you guys think of? Love seeing young or new landowners improving farms/land. Lot of guys who spent years saving for their "Dream"..... & Dreams do take $. Personally, I applaud those putting their $ into investments like this. It can create risk & most do it out of a love & passion for land & conservation. 99% of the farms I see folks buy in these scenarios... the land is left far better than they found it. Love seeing the hard working guy save up and buy his little slice of a dream. Any help or feedback for any this may apply to or apply to SOMEDAY appreciated.....
Lots of great tips!
I just picked up 85 acres and will implement some of these ideas!
Thanks for posting.
 

7mmsendero

New Member
I’m in northern Michigan, so it may be different here. I’m considering a couple acres of asparagus, potted Christmas trees, grape tomatoes, mushrooms and maple syrup. I’m not doing all of those, and we already do some timber.

I’ve raised asparagus, it’s interesting. Not many animals besides us have any interest in it, and it’s a perennial.
 

Hardwood11

It is going to be a good fall!
If you are young and can afford to buy something small, start there. Also if you have to buy outside your area and drive a bit, that it what I did. My first farm that I owned was 4 hours away.
 

sep0667

Land of the Whitetail
If you are young and can afford to buy something small, start there. Also if you have to buy outside your area and drive a bit, that it what I did. My first farm that I owned was 4 hours away.

What do you consider 'small'? I could get most everything under 50 acres, but really want my first purchase to be in that 60-80 acre range size. Another year or two and I should be able to do that.
 

Hardwood11

It is going to be a good fall!
What do you consider 'small'? I could get most everything under 50 acres, but really want my first purchase to be in that 60-80 acre range size. Another year or two and I should be able to do that.
Well, depends a lot on what type of farm. A 40 seems small, but can often be the right size for many hunters. We own a 52 acre parcel that has produced multiple quality bucks in MN, despite the poor regulations.
 
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