Many farmers struggle to meet their financial obligations relying on traditional cropping and livestock husbandry. That’s necessitating the search for alternative sources of revenue generation.
If you already do that, you’re not alone. Nearly half the 687,000 farming households the USDA’s Economic Research Service surveyed engaged in some on-farm hustles outside raising plants or animals. On average, they netted $14,400 from these extracurricular activities. That’s not chump change.
Looking to pad out those thin profit margins? Try these eight money-earning activities to shore up your farm business or earn a little spending money.
- Rent out your land.
The best on-farm alternatives make use of your existing assets. And if you own your own land, it’s probably your most valuable asset. So why not make money on it?
Of course, land you rent to tenants or lease to other farmers aren’t usually part of your productive land. To make this a viable enterprise, you have to have large tracts of land to offer prospective renters.
You could lease to other farmers to cultivate. In many places, land is too expensive to purchase. So there’s usually lots of interested lessees.
Others might want to rent land to hunt on or harvest timber. Some have even successfully rented land for storage.
- Sell your data.
Many companies and researchers want your data—and will pay for it. The advent of new data collection devices on smart farming platforms like OnFarm make this a simple procedure. While this won’t make you a millionaire, it’s a simple way to make money with what you have. Who doesn’t like that?
- Allow wind turbines and solar panels to be installed on your land.
Farms offer ideal sites for renewable energy generation. They provide stretches of privately-held land on which energy companies can put turbines and solar panels in endless rows. That’s something power companies are willing to pay for—and yet another way for farmers to cash in.
- Offer to service equipment.
Farmers know a lot about how stuff works—especially stuff on the farm. Some folks would pay handsomely for access to that expertise. Many times, a farmer just starting up could use a helping hand with repairs but doesn’t have the resources to hire a company technician. A veteran farmer might be just the right repairman (or repairwoman) for the job.
- Engage in agrotourism.
- Sell your farm produce directly to customers.
So technically, this is still normal ag production. But participating in a CSA or running a farm stand around town is really different from mass crop production. It takes some time, and it won’t make you rich. But it’s a nice way to make a little extra and connect with your local community.
There’s growing interest in exploring local foodways and finding out just where those delicious vegetables and chicken eggs come from. Why not capitalize on that curiosity?
People love taking their kids out to the farm to pick berries, ride tractors, or make apple cider. Throw a bounce house or a corn maze into the mix, and you might just have a tourist attraction.