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A farmer is someone who works under the umbrella of agriculture, producing a variety of food products for human and animal consumption. There are several kinds of farmers ranging from farmers who raise animals to farmers who grow crops.
There is a quote that is very accurate when describing a farmer - "Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable." - Wendell Berry.
A farmer's main goal is to produce a good crop and/or healthy animals in order to make a living and to feed the population. Farmers are responsible for all crops and livestock that are needed for us to survive. Without food, the world would slowly die, and farmers work hard every day to keep plenty of crops and animal products in the market to keep that from happening.
A farmer has various responsibilities within their particular field. Whether it is the purchasing and planting of seeds on a cash crop farm, the purchasing of quality breeding stock on an animal husbandry farm, or the diet and care of a specific type of livestock on an animal production farm, a farmer needs to have a wide knowledge base of the agricultural industry as a whole.
Besides the general knowledge of planting dates, breeding cycles and harvesting periods, a farmer often needs a good working knowledge of mechanics in order to keep their equipment running and in optimal order.
A strong working knowledge of the limitations and regulations of the Food and Drug Administration, state agencies, and local government is a must for a farmer, as there are many regulations placed on the agricultural industry.
The following are various types of farmers. Click on each type to learn what they do.
Organic Farmer - produces fruits, vegetables, grains, or livestock without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers
Grain and Forage Crop Farmer - grows grains such as wheat, barley, canola, oats, rye, flax, peas and speciality crops or forage crops
Dairy Farmer - owns or manages a farm where cows are raised for the production of milk and other dairy products
Poultry Farmer - raises domesticated birds such as geese, ducks, turkeys or chickens
Rancher - raises livestock such as cattle or sheep, or less common livestock such as elk, bison, ostrich, emu or alpacas
Beekeeper - keeps honey bees, and produces honey, pollen, royal jelly and beeswax
Vermiculturist - breeds worms and uses the worms to convert waste products such as uneaten food, feces, grass clippings, and spoiled fruit and vegetables into healthy, nutrient-rich soil and organic fertilizer
Where a farmer works is based on which area of the agricultural industry they choose to work. Here we will outline just a few of the many options available, to include fish farming, cash crop farming, animal husbandry, and livestock production.
In the area of fish farming -
farmers will manage a large fishery, often specializing in one variety of fish, such as tilapia. These farmers specialize in the raising of fish to be processed for consumption or to be released into lakes, rivers, and streams in the attempt to repopulate a dying waterway. Fish farmers need to know the specifics of the species they are raising as well as the environmental requirements placed upon them by federal, state, and local governments.
In the area of cash crop farming -
a farmer will raise crops to market for consumption, medical use, animal food production, and the growing herbal industry. A farmer in this field will be responsible for the planting, fertilization, and harvesting of the crops, as well as transport to the proper production elevators for sale at harvest. Cash crop farmers will need a strong working knowledge of planting times, harvesting times, and weather patterns in order to gain a good footing in their field.
Some of these crops may be processed to be sold back to farmers for future use. These crops are purchased by seed companies who treat the crops and process them, then sell them to farmers to use the next season as seeds to plant their fields. Other examples of such a circular sale include crops that are purchased to produce animal feed, which is then later sold to farmers in the animal husbandry and livestock production fields.
In animal husbandry -
farmers concentrate on providing healthy, hearty livestock for later processing for consumption. Farmers often specialize in one type of animal in this field, carefully breeding the livestock to produce the best quality offspring each season. Offspring are then raised to take the place of the current breeding stock over time, with the current breeding stock sold after a period of time. Animal husbandry requires a strong knowledge of blood lines and species types, as well as the best possible out-crossings of those types to provide the best results in breeding.
Also, some offspring may be sold to other farms who specialize in livestock production to be raised for a specific production purpose. A veal farm is one example of a farm involved in specialized livestock production that may purchase offspring from an animal husbandry farm for a specific production purpose. As the calves must be placed on a special diet, these farms are responsible for holding the livestock to that diet, monitoring their health, and selling them to production facilities at the proper age, weight, and size to produce the necessary product requirements for their field. Animal production farmers will need to know the diets, illnesses, treatments, and growth rates necessary for their specialized areas.
A good way to see if you'd like to be a farmer is to speak with some experienced farmers. Look for farmers that are doing the type of farming you'd like to do and ask them if they'd mind spending some time with you to answer some of your questions. There's no better way to find out what it's really like, and to get very helpful advice.
University is a fantastic way to study agriculture, economics and business management. Today's farmer is an entrepreneur, and knowing agricultural business is very important. Farmers need to know how to survive, and if you would like to take it further than the farm-labour stage, then education in all aspects of farming is needed.
Another way to gain knowledge of farming is to become an apprentice. Offer your services as a farm hand. This is an excellent way to acquire knowledge for free and to gain invaluable experience.
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Becoming a farmer is an excellent career choice for those who like to be outdoors and be their own boss. Self-employment and making a living from working the land are some of the main attractions of becoming a farmer. Outlined below are the various educational, work experience and personality requirements of becoming a farmer.