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All-in for farming

The decision to give up an off-farm job to pursue farming full time is an exciting one, but making that final decision can be agonizing. Fear of the unknown causes many to shy away from their dreams and keep with the status quo, inside agriculture and out. Kari Hollman and her husband, Terry, sought guidance on the subject on the Farmers For the Future network, a community within Agriculture.com.

“My husband is tired of the trucking industry and wants to farm full time. Does anyone have a success story to share? Did you finally just take the leap and do it?” asks Hollman. “We have 84 head of beef cows and hope to get to 100 to 125 for him to farm most of the time at home and to spend only a couple of days on the road in the truck – training wheels, I guess – until he knows we can make it without the truck. He wants to raise beef cattle and also grow crops and hay. He has so many scenarios in his head, so that's why I am posing this question.”

Network member Jeff Kazin says, “Let's say he can make $60,000 trucking. If you can make $200 per head for 600-pound calves, you'll need 300 cow/calf pairs to sell to be even gross. Call it 400 cows to cover replacements and reproductive failure. You have to have a vision of how you get to commercial size. I think he should go for it. If farming doesn't work out, there is high demand for good truck drivers and he can go back. What you can't get back is time.”

“I would highly recommend going all-in,” adds Shaun Hamlin. “I have been starting businesses since I was 16, and after many losses and many wins, the one thing that holds true is that the winners are ones I jumped into with both feet. I think it is also critical to keep an open mind as far as production practices, technology, and the like are concerned. I have quickly learned that farming can be systematically automated just like any other business. Technology is king and fertility is the queen. Keep an open mind and don't be afraid to be different. No one who just fell in line and followed a pattern of good enough or average ever won big, right? All that said, I would suggest that if your husband wants it, he should go for it and go for it big.”

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