What is in this article?:
- South Carolina grower started operation from scratch
- Paid off operating loan
- Tough to find good land
• 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.
Tough to find good land
The first thing, and the hardest thing, he says, about getting started in farming is finding enough good land to farm.
Between his first and second year of farming, a large acreage farmer down-sized his operation and another retired and Taylor was able to rent a portion of both farms.
To get started, hard work and good luck have to go hand-in-hand he contends. A big part of the hard work comes from putting together a workable farm plan that you can sell to a lender.
FSA has a lending program geared for low-equity farmers that can be extended up to seven years. That’s the program Taylor used, and still uses, to get started in farming. Knowing what’s available from a Federal lending agency and convincing them to finance a first-time operation are two entirely different things.
“Establishing an honest working relationship with your lender is absolutely essential to get started in farming. When I run into a problem, I know I can work with Thad to find a solution, and I think he knows I’m serious about farming for a living for a long time, so we find a way to keep the farming operation going throughout the crop year,” Taylor says.
On a personal level, he says, you have to be conservative in everything you do. “You have to take care of the crop and spend the money you need to spend to produce a good crop, but you have to learn to live on less and save money from one crop year to help get you through the next one,” he adds.
Farming under any circumstances is time-consuming, but getting started and doing most of it yourself takes you away from your family more than most jobs.
“I now have two small children, my wife works full — time, and I work 10-12 hours a day six days a week. I spend Sunday with my family,” he explains.
Starting out from scratch, you will likely have to find used, usually old, equipment and make it work well enough on a small scale to prove you can make it farming. Having just finished planting his third crop, Taylor says he still has a ways to go to prove to himself he can make it as a full time farmer.
“My brother would like to farm full time — that’s our dream, but we have to take it one step at a time. You have to understand you’re going to make some mistakes and learn from your mistakes, without letting them beat you,” he says.
Good crops in 2010, and one of the best wheat crops in years in South Carolina, added another layer of hope to Taylor’s quest to be a full-time farmer. Hard work and perseverance are making what so many said was impossible, possible for Marion, S.C., farmer Jimmy Taylor.