Farming lifestyle has enduring attractions

Although farming is a business, many people farm for the continuing attraction of the farming lifestyle.
And because that is the case, probably the best advice that could be given is that farm­ers ensure they can achieve their lifestyle goals through a com­mitment to sound business planning and an emphasis on creative thinking regarding man­agement and marketing is­sues.
Consider the following:
almost all of the seminar participants had either off-farm jobs or had incorporated some kind of service into their income planning;  most participants were either trying to access local markets for food or were starting to think about finding a way to differentiate their pro­ducts; despite the personal chal­lenges they faced, most partici­pants remained optimistic about the future of the industry and their spot within it; and almost all participants noted that they believed farm­ers should be able to meet their income needs from farming alone, and actively promoted the time-honoured ideal of the family farm.
My guess is that many of the people would say that farming is in their blood and that they personally value independence, connections to land and place, a rural lifestyle and so on. In fact, in many cas­es, my observation is that many people with those personal values will cling to their farms tenaciously and will make al­most any sacrifice to retain their chosen lifestyle.
From an economic view­point, that commitment to a given lifestyle clearly does not always make much sense. In many cases, people might be better off to sell the farm and choose another career that de­liv­ered a steadier, more predic­table income.
The key to success probably lies in making sure that a good business plan is in place to de­liver on those personal, life­style goals. If people are clear on their reasons for farming – and they should be – then a well-developed business plan, combined with a flair for cre­ative thinking, is one of the best ways to ensure that farmers can pursue their chosen lifestyle for years to come.
John Clement, GM of Christian Far­mers Federation