What motivates beginning farmers?

Michigan State University Extension asks Beginning Farmers:

What Motivates You to Farm?

A team of educators at Michigan State University conducted research to explore what makes beginning farmers successful (we originally reported on this project here). Jim Isleib of Michigan State University Extension recently reported on results from the project regarding what motivates beginning farmers. Results come from interviews with eight farmers and can be found here.

Common responses, as reported by Michigan State researchers, are also posted here, below:


  • Economic success included achieving financial “break-even,” not having to work off-farm and receiving earnings comparable to alternative employment opportunities.
  • Farming has enhanced family relationships and brought families together.
  • Farming resulted in an increase of community involvement for some farmers, but not others.
  • Farming as a lifestyle becomes the main focus and requires full commitment, often at the cost of recreation and other positive activities.
  • Most farmers have not stuck with their original plans and have benefited from being flexible. Some have never had a business plan.
  • Most farmers reported unexpected outcomes, including weather problems, change of enterprises and unexpected equipment needs.
  • Big challenges include finances, weather and labor.
  • Big successes include achieving full-time farmer status, personal satisfaction and farm business growth.
  • Future challenges include increased requirement for labor and finances, and more complex business management tasks.
  • Future opportunities include expanding the farm business, adding new enterprises and entering new markets.

View the full report on “Assessing Common Factors of Success Among Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Beginning Farmers.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.