What is a Farmer?

Also known as: Cultivator, Agriculturalist, Agriculturist, Farm Owner, Agriculturer.

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.

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What does a Farmer do?

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

How to become a Farmer

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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Further Reading

  • How One Woman Became A Farmer

    As a spoiled ex-suburbanite from Winnipeg, I’m better schooled in mall crawling than horticulture. During high school, my vocational aptitude tests always resulted in the same two options: (a) teacher or (b) journalist.

  • More Young People See Opportunities In Farming

    A Wisconsin factory worker worried about layoffs became a dairy farmer. An employee at a Minnesota nonprofit found an escape from her cubicle by buying a vegetable farm. A nuclear engineer tired of office bureaucracy decided to get into cattle ranching in Texas.

  • I Suddenly Realized I Had Become A Farmer

    Watching Mike Rowe's TEDTalk "Learning from Dirty Jobs," I was taken by his humorous, but meaningful discussion of the Aristotelian terms anagnorisis and peripeteia, discovery and transformation, respectively. As I listened, I recalled my own experience of them...

  • The Spa Expert Who Became A Farmer

    Arkansas-native Mary Blackmon had a lucrative, big-city career. She worked for major publishing houses and internet companies before founding one of the first national spa discount sites, Spa-Addicts.com, in 2002, and becoming an authority on the spa experience and lifestyle... Then, she became a farmer.

  • Want To Make More Than A Banker? Become A Farmer!

    If you want to become rich, Jim Rogers, investment whiz, best-selling author and one of Wall Street's towering personalities, has this advice: Become a farmer.

  • How To Become A Farmer: Career Guide

    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.

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