What is in this article?:
• In 2009, armed with about 350 acres of land, 1970s vintage farm equipment, and a small tractor, Jimmy Taylor started farming.
• He didn’t have enough good land; he didn’t have the right equipment, and admittedly didn’t really know what he was doing that first year.
Starting a farm from scratch, most people contend, is next to impossible these days, but Marion, S.C., farmer Jimmy Taylor is proving the theory, and all those who discouraged him from farming for a living, wrong.
Jimmy got his first taste of farming working part time on a tobacco farm during his high school days. Though one generation removed from farming he just couldn’t get the thought of farming out of mind.
He didn’t major in agriculture at Clemson University because so many people had told him he couldn’t make a living farming. He earned a degree in forestry, got a job, got married, started a family and all seemed to be playing out well.
He and his brother Wade Taylor, a Marion County, S.C., deputy sheriff, managed to farm a few acres part time — much more of a hobby than a living at that time, he says.
Then the economic downturn in the U.S. became a recession and like millions of Americans, he lost his job in 2008. Despite a college degree, excellent work record, and a few years experience in the forestry business, finding a job was tough.
“I was sending out resumes — actively looking for a forestry job, but I was also trying to figure out how many acres it would take to make a living farming, because that’s what I really wanted to do,” Taylor recalls.
So, in 2009, armed with about 350 acres of land, 1970s vintage farm equipment, and a small tractor, Jimmy Taylor started farming. He didn’t have enough good land; he didn’t have the right equipment, and admittedly didn’t really know what he was doing that first year.
“I read everything I could find about growing grain, I attended every farm meeting and field day I could find and I had a tremendous amount of help and support from farmers in the area and from the whole agriculture industry,” Taylor says.
The strongest support came from his wife, Julie, who was pregnant at the time with their second child. “She told me to follow my dream and that’s what I did that first year,” Taylor says.
With the economy seemingly in meltdown mode, 2009 wasn’t a great year to find funding for a first-time farming operation.
Thad Williams, who heads the Marion County FSA office, proved to be a God-send, helping Taylor get together all the information he needed for a farm loan and finding the money to do it.