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Utilization of Foreign Investments in Agriculture of China

As a very important role of world economy, China has made a tremendous achievement of utilizing foreign investment since the reform and opening up. China’s agriculture began to utilize foreign investment in the end of 70’s, when the reform and opening up just started. Agriculture is one of the earliest industries to utilize foreign investments. The new government has been paying unprecedented attention to agriculture due to its strategic position in the development of economy in China. Then Documents about agriculture has been issued again by the authorities in 2005. Solving the problems facing agriculture, rural areas and farmers has been the most important task for the government. Therefore, under the background that more and more attention has been paid to agriculture, it has both theoretical and practical significance to study how to expand, introduce and utilize foreign-investment effectively and efficiently to promote agricultural modernization, industrialization and internationalization.

This article is composed of four parts to discuss the central topic “Utilization of Foreign Investments in Agriculture of China”.

1. The background, purpose, significance, content and methodology of this study are introduced and an overview of the past and current studies and researches is presented. Besides, the basic theories of agriculture utilizing foreign investments are summarized.

2. The characteristics of agriculture utilizing foreign investments in China are summarized according to its development, status quo and problems existing in the developing process. Moreover, the model of FDI’s contribution to agriculture economic growth is set up to analyze relations between agricultural GDP and FDI in agriculture. Also, we sets up a multivariate regression model of FDI and its influence factors such as the level of agriculture economic development, human capital, the extent of agricultural internationalization and investment climate, etc. The quantitative analysis can provide the data support for government policy.

3. Through introducing the international experiences and lessons of agriculture utilizing investment in developed countries (America and Korea) and in developing countries (Thailand, India, Brazil and Indonesia), some inspirations have been drawn for investment utilization in our agriculture.

4. Based on the theoretical and empirical analysis of the status quo, problems and the influence factors of agriculture utilizing foreign investments, learning its international experiences and lessons, we comes up with some concluding remarks and policy suggestions as follows: agriculture in China should further strengthen the development and exploit market potential; improve agricultural investment climate and upgrade the superiority of introducing foreign capital; intensify high-quality foreign investments introduction and increase the utilizing efficiency; enhance the supervision and control of both domestic and foreign markets as well as establish and consummate rules and regulations.

Four Reasons Why You Should Buy Lavazza Coffee

We could continue for ages and provide you with all sorts of musings on the joyfulness of making those steaming cups of gourmet coffee in the comfort of your own kitchen. We could (and occasionally do!) become poetic on the heavenly aroma that wafts through the air. We could prattle on about the glee of serving a great cup of coffee to family and friends, and taking those few spare moments daily to savor something truly yummy.

We could, but not now. Today we want to give you four solid reasons to buy Lavazza coffee, taking into consideration all the alternative options out there. Hold on tight, it’s going to get real in here. These reasons are not concerning the astonishing experience you get on the wonderful end of a hot cup of coffee. These are facts about Lavazza coffee, how it is grown, prepared and made, that sets the coffee above the ordinary bean. It’s about a tradition of protecting quality, and relentless attention to the particulars of the coffee production experience.

Why Should You Buy Lavazza Coffee?

Like any well-known brand, Lavazza has a particular reputation behind it, one of a long-standing commitment to the coffee drinking experience. This prestige comes from more than 100 years of quality in the business, with constant innovation in production methods and processing procedures.

These four detailed reasons for choosing Lavazza will aid you in understanding why this reputation is well earned.

1. Genuine Quality. Frequently referred to as “Italy’s preferred coffee,” Lavazza has become synonymous with gourmet coffee fineness. The quality has been built up for over more than a century in the business. Part of this tradition includes a stern quality development process that starts exactly at the source, on the coffee farms where the beans are tended. If you want to be confident that the coffee begins with the best beans, you go directly to the source. And this is one critical motivation to buy Lavazza coffee over alternative brands that may possibly source their beans from unknown or unmonitored locations.

2. The Production Plants. When you buy Lavazza coffee, you are buying coffee that’s been processed under carefully controlled conditions at one of the four Italian plants. Two of these plants have been awarded ISO 9001 and ISO 9003 certifications, which means that they scrupulously comply with industry quality standards and maintain excellence in all phases of production. In all cases, the plants operate by incorporating the traditional methods that result in great coffee, while constantly innovating and integrating current technology that enhances the coffee flavor in constantly improving ways.

3. The Heart. A company is only as solid as the people who work in it. When you buy Lavazza coffee, you aid in supporting a company that not only preaches, but lives, social responsibility. For example, they started the Tierra Project, designed to improve living standards in smaller coffee-growing communities in Colombia, Honduras and Peru. Sustainability in agricultural efforts is a vital mission to the company.

4. The Flavor. All right, we could not avoid being poetic on this one. There really is nothing quite like the rich, creamy, robust taste and heady aroma that you will know when you buy Lavazza coffee. Whether you select ground, whole bean or pre-measured, the Lavazza experience is really the elevated water mark of fine Italian coffee.

Ghana Life: Working Four Hours a Day

Ghana, like many countries in the modern world, has an unemployment problem, and the situation is particularly severe in relation to providing jobs for increasing numbers of school leavers. In modern society a job implies employment for seven or eight hours a day, five days a week, a working week being 35 to 40 hours. Many people dislike work, or at least they dislike the jobs they are compelled by economic necessity to undertake. Wouldn’t most people be happier if the hours were shorter and the available work was shared more equitably?

In his book ‘The Affluent Society’ published in 1958, the famous American economist, John Kenneth Galbraith, observed that according to anthropologists, when mankind lived by hunting and gathering, the work needed to sustain life amounted to about four hours a day. Many more hours needed to be worked after the invention of agriculture and it was no doubt during the ensuing long millennia that the idea of life dominated by work became widely accepted. However, Galbraith suggested that with modern labour-saving machines it was likely that the available work, shared out between the able-bodied willing workers, would again be reduced to about four hours a day.

In Ghana, in the last decades of the twentieth century, there was much evidence to suggest that although hours at work were long, the actual work activity filled only a fraction of the time. In Suame Magazine in Kumasi, which provides apprenticeships and employment for thousands of youth, work nominally extended throughout most of the hours of daylight, six days a week. Yet it was observed that much time was spent idly waiting for a customer to bring a job, and when a task was taken in hand there would be one man working and four men watching. Work undertaken in this pleasant and relaxed social environment comes close to Galbraith’s vision of the four hour working day, except that the worker is tied to the workplace throughout the leisure hours.

Within the span of recorded history, and almost within living memory, many Ashantis chose to earn their living as hunters. One of their main hunting grounds was in the south of what is now Brong-Ahafo Region; ahafo meaning hunters in the Twi language. If Galbraith’s anthropologists were correct, these hunters earned their livelihood working about four hours a day, even if they spent longer hours wandering in social intercourse with their companions. According to Galbraith’s theory, it might seem that their descendents working in the informal workshops of Suame Magazine had bypassed the agricultural and industrial revolutions in just a few generations, whereas the craftsmen themselves would claim to have merely preserved their traditional way of working.

Perhaps, part of the answer to providing work for all lies in preserving and extending the traditional social organisation of work. Let everyone who is willing and able, join the team and share the work as it comes to hand. The problem of an equitable sharing of the proceeds is another problem to which even Galbraith could give no final answer, although he made some useful suggestions and warned of the dire consequences if no solution was found.

The Pros And Cons Of Three, Four And Five School Term Systems

Schools are increasingly starting to look at alternatives to the conventional three-term school year as the long summer holiday is now considered a barrier to effective learning. As such, four and five-term systems are being examined to see if they could deliver better results for teachers, students and parents.

But what are the pros and cons of the three systems, and can it be said that one is more clearly effective than the other two? Some of the positives and negatives are outlined below:

Three-Term System

Traditional system with long summer break. Half-term holidays help break up the wearying effect of long school terms.

Pros

  • A proven system – The current timetable balances concentrated teaching periods with significant time to relax and recharge. Also, teaching during summer is less effective because the heat makes pupils drowsy and distracted.
  • Long summer breaks allow plenty of time for children to pursue their own interests, social activities and self-development.

Cons

  • A ‘medieval system’ – Critics argue that long summer holidays were originally designed so kids could help out with agricultural work, and that the system is a relic of older times. Also argue that the system leaves kids ill-prepared for the year-round rigours of employment.
  • Resentment of teachers’ holidays – Some people criticise teachers for their long summer break, damaging their public image. A shorter break would help to alleviate this criticism.

Five-Term System

Typically consisting of five eight-week terms, with a two-week break between them and a four-week summer holiday.

Pros

  • Shorter summer holidays – Four-week holiday relieves pressure on parents who need to make sure their children are looked after over an extended period. Also goes some way to solving the phenomenon of ‘summer learning loss’, where a substantial part of the next school year is taken up relearning things forgotten over the long summer break.
  • More flexibility in the school curriculum – More teaching time means that more time can be given over to subjects like art, design, music or computing. These ‘fun’ subjects are a good fit for the summer months when kids are looking to relax, while still ensuring that they are learning useful skills.

Cons

  • Greater pressure on teachers – Shorter holidays and more teaching time will lead to a testing schedule for teachers. This could decrease the attractiveness of the profession and impact on recruitment.
  • Greater pressure on pupils – Long summer holidays offer an important time for kids to recharge, enjoy time with family and explore their own interests. A four-week holiday might not seem like much of a holiday at all.

Four-Term System

A compromise between the three and five-term systems, striking a balance between term and holiday length.

Pros

  • Tailored for exams – With more time for exam preparation than three-term systems and longer breaks as a ‘reward’ for completing exams than the five-term system, the system seems tailored towards greater exam performance.
  • Combats the problems of both ‘learning loss’ and short holidays which don’t allow enough time for self-development.

Cons

  • More terms mean that teaching is more frequently interrupted, whereas three-term systems allow the syllabus to be taught with more focus and in greater depth.
  • Extending teaching further into the summer could lead to distracted, irritable students who would rather be outside.

Conclusion

Clearly, each system has both benefits and drawbacks which make it difficult to pick a clear winner. However, the compromise approach of the four-term system means it may offer a solution to the problems of the other systems. The five-term system could lead to too much pressure being put on teachers and students, while the long holidays in the three-term system mean that too much revision of old topics needs to be done at the start of the next school year. While the four-term model isn’t perfect, it goes some way to alleviating these other challenges while leaving students better prepared for their examinations.

What is an Agricultural Inspector?

People who find satisfaction and pleasure in dealing with nature particularly animals, livestock and the like would definitely discover that being an agricultural inspector is a career suited for them. This is generally considered a green job because of its direct interaction and care for animals, plants and other forms of natural resources. Most important and relevant in agricultural countries or states, this job is definitely something that requires a lot of dedication, knowledge and passion for this particular craft.

The career outlook for an agricultural inspector should be plentiful. They make on average $31-$49 thousand a year.

What is an agricultural inspector?

This job is potentially endorsed and provided mainly by the Department of Agriculture as part of the agency’s advocacy for health and proper stewardship of the natural resources. In line with the nature of their work, inspectors are responsible for making sure that agri-businesses and companies strictly comply with the different regulations and laws provided by the state and federal government. These would generally be covering the safety of meat and its processes, poultry, egg, vegetable and fruits productions must likewise follow and adhere with certain standards before they would be marketed to the general public or consumers. In short agricultural inspectors are the main figures that protect the public’s welfare and health from any food-related illnesses and diseases.

Depending on the level of the inspector, there job description would differently vary from mere inspection, testing and sampling of the different agricultural products to giving of necessary supervision, training and guidance which are often delegated to senior inspectors or high level agricultural inspectors. Some of the manual works that these professionals may also do are lifting of different weights up to 100 pounds which they need to perform their tasks and obligations.

For senior agricultural inspectors, they are obliged to ensure that businesses are complying with the standards set by the department thus regular visitation and inspections must be done on these companies in an actual or ocular basis. One concrete example is when inspector would go to the actual plant where livestock products are processed and get samples for testing and quality assurance. This likewise applies to the grains and vegetable products which are also tested for quality and chemical levels.

What are the requirements for the job?

Several of the positions required for this job would look for bachelor’s degrees from accredited colleges mostly leaning towards biology or agricultural science. Depending on the type of job, some are requiring four-year courses while others do not necessarily need graduates with these credentials to qualify. Furthermore, potential inspectors must undergo intensive trainings and skill development to improve their craft and knowledge about their work. This would not only include sufficient knowledge on the biological and agricultural area but also with laws and regulations regarding agriculture. Most importantly, candidates must have actual field experiences in order to support their other credentials thus working on a meat-processing plant or farm would be great additional incentives in order to get a slot in the agricultural inspection industry.

Green jobs are indeed timely and noble careers that are potentially growing in demand and are now widely recognized. Being an agricultural inspector is one remarkable career that encompasses every passion and care for nature and protection to the consuming public.

Why Sustainable Agriculture Remains Relevant in the New Economy

Allan Savory and Bren Smith, who spoke in the 35th Annual E.F. Schumacher Lectures that was entitled Cattle & Kelp: Agriculture in a New Economy, suggested that a new approach should be taken towards agriculture.

This was in view of the fact that the current approach is not sustainable in the long run due to the prevalent issues of declining soil fertility, soil erosion, drought and super pests.

Many innovative companies have also been using agricultural technology to make agriculture sustainable, and have acknowledged the fact that this sector plays a crucial role in the new economy.

Agriculture remains relevant today for several reasons. It is widely perceived as the key to feeding the estimated nine billion individuals in the world by 2050, and will also help to increase the number of jobs.

1. Sustainable agriculture may be the solution to prevent a looming food crisis.

Price volatility and high food prices will result in a food crisis, which places food production issues and agricultural growth back on the development agenda.

Both Savory and Smith have developed agricultural models that are based on natural systems. Smith pioneered the development of restorative 3D ocean farming; this farming model was designed with the aim of mitigating climate change, restoring ocean ecosystems and creating jobs for fishermen while also ensuring that communities were supplied with healthy, local food.

There are also several companies who are using agricultural technology to prevent a food crisis. According to The Economist, the products and services that these firms are developing will significantly contribute to increasing food yields and quality, which is needed to feed the nine billion individuals living on this planet by 2050.

2. Sustainable agriculture will be able to create jobs in the new economy

According to Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, the agricultural sector has four times the power to create jobs and reduce poverty in Africa as compared to other sectors.

Essentially, agriculture can help countries to diversify their economies, be less dependent on food imports, increase jobs, and revive rural areas.
In the United States, despite the fact that agricultural revenue and export opportunities have been high, rural areas have been losing their population. If this were to continue, these areas will lose their economic stability and many of its national assets.

However, if the trend is reversed successfully, the economy as a whole can benefit from long-term growth. Rural areas will also prosper. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is therefore investing in the perceived areas of opportunity for agricultural growth; these include supporting new and beginning ranchers and farmers, local and regional food systems, as well as the economy.

In conclusion, it is crucial that countries place greater importance on their agricultural sector. Africa, which is currently leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution, has more than 70 percent of its farmers utilising information and communications technology. Additionally, its agricultural and agribusiness industry is projected to hit a net worth of US$1 trillion by 2030.

This highlights the need for other countries to improve their agricultural sector, as it can help to decrease food imports and increase job opportunities for their citizens, as well as improve the state of its economy overall.

Organic Food As a Fast-Growing Segment of US Agriculture

Lately organic food is gaining popularity, the trend being stable for at least five years. The recent research conducted by the Food Marketing Institute provides proof that majority of American citizens buy organic food at least once a month.

This segment of US agriculture shows rapid growth. Only in 2007 organic food retailers earned more than 20 billion dollars. The annual growth of organic dairy industry is estimated to be 18 percent by the year 2010.

Let us have a look at the main idea beneath organic food production, i.e. using materials and practices that could improve the ecological balance of natural systems. We cannot be absolutely sure that organic products are free of residues yet there are best practices involved in production that are directed at minimizing pollution from air, soil and water. And organic food production is controlled y strict state and federal standards, too.

Thus mostly people tend to treat organic food as that which is devoid of fertilizers or pesticides. Nonetheless the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) labelled food as organic if it is 95 percent pure.

Sometimes products contain only 70 percent of organic materials or even less. This kind of food cannot be called organic but it can be labelled “made with organic ingredients”. Thus you should differentiate between these forms of products at the supermarket.

De facto non-organic practices in the USA release more than one billion pounds of pesticides. The USDA’s tests prove that organic products contain three or four times less pesticide residues than in conventionally produced fruits and vegetables.

And conventional practices in agriculture can result in water contamination. According to Environmental Working Group’s research that was conducted back in 1955 across the Corn Belt, in Louisiana and Maryland, scientists concluded that tap water pesticide contamination was at health risk levels. The solution was in organic farming methods, as well as developing the soil.

It is important to notice that the term organic has another meaning than organic. Sometimes food producers seeking higher sales and good reputation make tricks by labelling their food as natural as it does not comply to organic food standards.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows using the term natural for food that does not contain any added colourings, artificial ingredients or synthetic substances.

That is why more and more non-organic producers try to present their products as good for health and thus, in 2008, about one third of all new US food and beverage products were labelled with the word “natural”.

Signs of Global Sanity? Sharing of Innovative Agricultural Solutions to Help Farmers and Consumers

Agriculture is the direct or indirect livelihood of three quarters of the world’s poor, who live in rural areas.

The 2008 food crisis and the subsequent global financial crisis, showed the extreme vulnerability of developing countries to fluctuations in food prices and supplies.

But the impact was not only on developing world farmers – it affected consumers world-wide in food scarcities, eg rice in Thailand, and higher prices.

In Nov 2008 Egypt – UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation) sponsored the first ever international conference on Sharing Innovative Agribusiness Solutions – From Farms to Markets: Providing Know-how and Finance.

If the conference activities can be sustained it’s an initiative that would potentially benefit small farmers in developing world, consumers everywhere and the planet as a whole.

“Our vision is sustainable development”

In his opening speech Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, Founder of SEKEM said that Sustainable development could satisfy our needs and aspirations without decreasing the chances for future generations……but that we need to learn the basic principals of ecology.

“….. Being ecologically literate means understanding the principles of organisations of ecological communities including our educational comĀ¬munities, political and business communities. So that principles of education, management and politics include the principles of ecology.”

A little about SEKEM

In 1977 the economic and social hardship of his countrymen galvanised Social Entrepreneur and medical doctor Dr Abouleish into buying 70 hectares of desert scrubland, 60 km north-east of Cairo and close to the River Nile.

He called the new experimental farm there SEKEM – from Ancient Egyptian: “vitality from the sun”.

SEKEM was able to transform the desert into a showcase example of sustainable agriculture and a healthy ecosystem through biodynamic farming methods.

Its efforts in organic cultivation led to the conversion of the entire Egyptian cotton industry to organic methods.

Starting off with a dairy and crop farm, SEKEM soon began to produce herbal teas and to market its biodynamic produce in Europe. This initiative helped other farms in Egypt to switch to biodynamic farming. A part of its mix of activities the farm uses bio-fertilizers.

The 2008 Cairo conference brought together over 400 agribusiness stakeholders from more than 65 countries, including representatives of private and public institutions (technical and financial), international organizations, donor countries, civil society, universities and research institutions to share innovative agribusiness solutions

Topics covered supply/value chains, market access and linkages, Compliance with standards and conformity assessment, Technology and value addition and Innovative forms of financing

Participants were enthusiastic about working together to achieve change. central to the debate were “Innovation and opportunity”, “partnerships based on trust” and “the need for commitment”, also the need for a holistic approach to agriculture taking into account the needs of specific groups, and avoiding the mistake of thinking that “one size fits all”.

Four key issues were identified:

1. Financial: small producers need finance to bridge the gap between initial costs and eventual benefits to help them enhance their productivity and agricultural product distribution.

2. Up to date information: small farmers and SMEs need access to up-to-date market information to enable them to compete effectively in local, regional and international markets.

One example cited was an Indian project, an e-Choupal (“choupal” means gathering place in Hindi) programme that places computers with internet access in rural farming villages; e-Choupals acted as both a social gathering place for exchange of information and an e-commerce hub.

3. Investment in supply-chain infrastructure: Governments, the food industry, agribusiness and consumer goods retailers need to invesr in supply-chain infrstructures, which have a long economic life.

e-Choupal had a role here too: Out of an initial effort to re-engineer the procurement process for soy, tobacco, wheat, shrimp and other cropping systems in rural India grew a highly profitable distribution and product design channel for the company – an e-commerce platform and also a low-cost fulfilment system focused on the specific needs of rural India

4. Use of technology: using technological know-howfor improving yields, includingbio-fertilizers applied as soil or seed inoculants and foliar spray, reduction of post-harvest losses through better product preservation techniques, quality preservation processes and innovative ingredients to reduce microbial and toxin contamination, increased cost-efficiency related to local production, collective brands and quality criteria enhancement to strengthen small-scale producers, packaging technology and efficient logistics.

A range of follow-up activities was reportedly initiated, including a new project (supported by the Italian Development Cooperation) to extend ETRACE(UNIDO’s Egyptian Traceability Centre for Agro-Industrial Exports) activities and help other developing countries to establish similar centres.

Further follow-up initiatives will focus on promotional and outreach activities such as the development of an interactive networking and matchmaking platform for agribusiness practitioners, which will allow continuous sharing of more innovative solutions and best practices with more participants and thus foster more business and development partnerships

If the momentum from this conference can be sustained the future could be brighter for all of us, consumers and farmers alike.

Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers

Online Agriculture Career Preparation

Becoming a part of the agriculture industry is a process that requires students to complete schooling and meet specified qualifications. Students can enter a degree program online where they learn all of the integral parts of the field. Many colleges provide online education to help students prepare for a career.

The field breaks down essential key areas that need to be learned in connection with business principles. Students can prepare for a career by completing key steps.

Key Step One: Research the Career Possibilities

Students can enter many careers in agriculture. Before enrolling in an online program it’s recommended that students consider what area of agriculture they would like to work in, as this decision often dictates what educational level and concentration to pursue. Online information can be found on the various careers to help students pin point their preferred area of interest. Greenhouse manager, plant and soil technician, ranch manager, soil composition specialist, policymaker, and educator are a couple of career options students can pursue.

Each field has students conducting different tasks and overseeing multiple aspects of their area. For example, a greenhouse manager will oversee the support structures and operation of several greenhouses. This includes being responsible for the growing of plants and where they are sold, whether it’s locally or nationally. Another possibility is becoming a soil scientist. Professionals examine the chemical, physical, biological, and mineral makeup of soil in direct relation to plant and crop growth. Students can enter these careers after first completing education.

Key Step Two: Complete Education

Once students know which area of the industry is for them, they will be able to complete the correct level of education. Online accredited schools and colleges offer students programs from the associate’s to master’s degree level. Each level presents specific career related knowledge that allows students to step into the industry with confidence. Each educational program offers students the same general coursework. Specific courses will be taken according to the specialization that students have chosen. General courses may include:

  • Soil Fertility
  • Agribusiness Management
  • Horticulture
  • Livestock Science

Students can expect to study biology, the science of soil, plant cultivation, and how to operate farming equipment. Skills are adapted through online coursework that gives lessons through video and audio demonstrations.

Completing a degree program is the best way to enter the field. Students can enter a career in approximately two years when they earn their associate’s degree. Further study at the bachelor’s level, which is often required, takes four years. Students that pursue a master’s degree can expect to earn advanced training in a two-year program.

Begin preparing for a career in agriculture by learning about the career possibilities. Online education is a great way to learn and students can begin training by enrolling in an accredited program. Full accreditation is given to agriculture schools and colleges that offer the best quality education by agencies such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges ( http://www.accsc.org/ ).

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by PETAP.org.

Starting Out in the Bu$ine$$ of Agriculture

There are five things to seriously consider when starting up a farm, no matter if you are pursuing an interest in crop farming, raising livestock like cattle or sheep, for instance, or growing fruit:

1) There’s tough, hard work involved

If you want to farm, it’s tough, hard work with little satisfaction in the end. It’s no wonder 90% or more of the young people that come off of farms don’t want to go back to it. No money in it, comprised mostly of blood, sweat and tears, with a little reward in the end. No benefits, no health coverage, no labour unions to say when you should start your day, have your lunch break and end it. That’s all for you to decide. And your hours in your day depend on the weather and how many things you have to have done in a day.

2) Start small (a must!!)

Never go off the deep end if you don’t know how to swim. You could drown in bankruptcy or personal injury if you have no idea what you are getting into. The thing that I have learned over the years and from talking to other veteran farmers is to start small. Especially if you have no prior experience. Unlike those farmer’s sons and daughters that want to continue to farm by taking over their parent’s operation and can go into or continue, a newbie needs to learn first either by working on an existing farm that has been operating for a number of years, or get a mentor, or both.

For example, if I want to get into cow-calf business, I have to do my research and asking questions first before I take the plunge and purchase some cows with calves. I do have previous farming experience which helps significantly, as well as capital to keep the newly founded herd on, so that is not as much of a problem as other folks do who are moving from the big city to the wide countryside.

3) Do your research: Popularity and Fabs aren’t Everything

Don’t give in easily to the fabs and the popular equipment or livestock out there. Often time those popular type of livestock or equipment will not work out for you and your plan of operation. For example, the Angus breed. Angus cattle are not really known for their docility, just the fact that they produce darn good beef off their carcass and are the most popular breed observed in the United States and Canada to date. Yes they are good for range cattle, yes they are good mothers, yes they have great calving ease (depending on selection), yes the A.A.A (American Angus Association) have a great marketing initiative to make them the highest selling breed on the market in competition with the other coloured breeds. But, is that what you want? Not too long ago a genetic disorder has cropped up in the Angus breed called Curly Calf Syndrome, a disorder that results in dead calves at birth from suspected linebreeding of cattle from similar lineages–which is often the case when you have millions of Angus cattle across the continent. Another concern is that the Angus breed is more for those who can handle potentially aggressive mothers and somewhat-nutty bulls, among other things. I could go on.

Another example is rookie producer that has a small farm of 80 acres or less decides on going all out and purchasing large, brand-new machinery that is only suitable for farms with huge tracts of field-land to cover. A farm of only 80 acres maybe only devote half the acreage to the production of barley or corn; the other half would more likely go into living space, garden, and livestock areas. That’s only 40 acres of crop sown, and if that newbie goes out and spends all that money on that kind of machinery that is only going to be used once or twice a year, at the very least, he shouldn’t even be farming: he should be owning an equipment dealership instead. It sounds harsh, sure, but look at it this way: that machinery is probably worth more than the farm is. Depretiation, as well as the long run costs of maintaining this new-fangled equipment just isn’t necessary on a small farm. Either hiring custom outfits to till, sow, spray and harvest the crop for you or purchasing older, and much cheaper machinery from an auction is the best thing to go for. Personally, I’d have it custom done. Or convert it into hay or pasture…

4) Plan, plan, plan!

Planning is a huge deal in today’s world when one is starting a farm right from scratch. A farm is a business, no matter if it involves selling grain and livestock, or fruits and vegetables. A business plan, be it complex or simple, is the best thing to develop and have on hand when planning and implementing those plans to the farm. It also gives the bank an idea of what you want to do if you wish to take out a loan. Back in the old days, you could start farming without needing to form a plan, everything was simple and plain. Now, you have tons of options to choose from and just as much ways to sell your end product. Plan what to do and how to do it: it’s the key to success.

5) Location, location, location.

The most important factor that determines what kind and what size of farm to start up are the varied choices to consider in location, geography and climate. All of these have an influence in your choice to farm in that area and what crops and livestock are best to raise or grow. In the case of livestock, there are at least four factors to contend with that are totally out of your control when raising the critters: topography, climate, vegetation, and soil.

Case in point, look at the differences between that found in Alberta, Canada and in Florida, USA. Alberta has quite the variation in topography, from the rugged Rocky Mountains to the west, to prairie that stretches from the southern border all the way up to Lloydminster and west to the foothills, as well as a significant patch up in Grande Prairie and Peace River areas. We also have boreal forest that extends from south of Athabasca all the way to the northern border and beyond. Florida doesn’t have that much of variation in topography: grasslands and swamps as well as the ocean that surrounds much of its southern, western and eastern borders (note: there are also many swamps found up here in Alta, many of which have no bottom: those are considered “muskeg” or “bog”). Alberta has a drier climate that varies in rainfall: the prairies get less rainfall than the boreal forest. Florida is quite a moist area all around because of the influence of the ocean and its currents. Alberta has four defined seasons, one of which is more wickeder than the other three. Florida’s four seasons are very much less defined, with snow being rare around there.

Alberta has a very wide range of soil type, from rich, organic soil created from the grasses of the prairie, to acidic, sandy soil derived from the spruce and pine of the boreal forest. New soil is also found in various areas; clays are also found to the north, south of the boreal. Florida’s soil (forgive me if I get this wrong) ranges from loamy to sandy with not much between, depending on the topography.

Vegetation comes in wide varieties as well in Alberta, thanks to human intervention. We are able to grow C4 grasses (annuals like corn; other annuals that are not C4’s are most cereal crops like wheat, barley, oats, rye and triticale) in the spring and summer months, only to have them die when the cold snows hit. Most of the native vegetation is adapted to withstand cold winters to regrow in the summer, therefore 98% of the grasses found in pasture and hayland are C3 grasses, grasses that start to grow in early April and last until June or July, already completing their life-cycle long before winter arrives. The trees and shrubs too are adapted to a colder, drier climate: our prime example are evergreens. Florida does not have to worry about extreme cold temperatures, thus the grasses that grow there are more commonly C4 grasses, those grasses that will grow later in the spring/summer and complete their life-cycle come fall. C3 grasses are also found there, but grow only during the “winter” months. The trees and shrubs there as well as adapted to a warm, humid climate and thrive as such. Similar differences are found in forbs grown in Alberta and Florida.

When you get these different climates even with cropping systems, this can limit you to what type of crop plants you can/should plant. Some areas of the USA and Canada can be too cold for one crop and too warm for another, or vice versa. Soil type is also very important, as well as topography. You can’t grow a field of wheat in the chaparral desert of Arizona, even if you tried! The mountainous terrain of the Cumberland hills in the Apalachain mountains, for instance, is not a wise place to plant corn. So topography, climate and soil type is critical in determining where to farm, how to farm and what to farm.

6) When you get down to it, it’s all up to you in the end.

There are more variables, such as personal choices and goals, that should also be taken into account when wanting to establish a farm, and this can be considered a sixth factor in choosing where/how to farm. Are you able to contend with Alberta’s cold winters, where the snow gets deep and feeding livestock can sometimes be a challenge, but the summers are warm however short, with beautiful fall days and summer storms to live with? Or would you rather like a warm humid climate where you are able to graze 365 days a year with hurricanes and swarms of bugs (i.e. chiggers, flies, mosquitoes) to contend with? And do you prefer to tinker with machinery and watch your crop grow, or would you rather be happy with looking after livestock, with fixing fence, looking after sick animals, planning pasture rotations, feed diets, breeding and birthing schedules, etc? Perhaps you may want to do both. And perhaps you may only want to have a few acres as a hobby farmer instead of going whole-hog and have a farm that is at least 100 acres in size?

It’s all up to you.