You have to water and give plants nutrients in order for them to grow. And, in a sense, that’s what you have to do with a new agriculture business. John Hyre, executive director of Hickory Ridge Farm and Preston County Workshop, talked with Jim Matuga, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about his advice to new entrepreneurs who are considering getting into the agriculture and farming business.
Preston County Workshop is a 501(c)3 non-profit, certified by the state of West Virginia as a community rehabilitation program, located in Reedsville, West Virginia.
Preston County Workshop’s mission is to help people with disabilities secure gainful employment opportunities that align with their interest, skills and talents. This organization connects a group of pre-screened and qualified employees to opportunities within the community, as well as provides competitively priced services to businesses and government agencies.
Don’t give up.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 97 percent of U.S. farms are family owned. Eighty-eight percent of farms are small businesses.
When you’re considering starting a farm or any type of agriculture business, you need to find your niche. Finding your niche doesn’t just mean finding what you like to do. Market research comes into play here, and don’t skip it.
Depending on your area, business size and revenue, you will need to look at where you are selling your product, who is buying and how you’re transporting the goods. One thing that you can do is reach out to your local extension service, such as WVU Extension. They may be able to point you in the right direction.
Next, if you’re establishing a farm, you need to find the right land. What should you consider when buying land?
You should consider a few things, such as where you are selling your product, is there access to water, is the soil good, can you build on this land and who is your nearest neighbor.
Then, after you’ve found the land and developed a business plan, you will need to look for financing. A business plan will help validate why you need as much as money that you ask for. Resources that can help you gain capital include the USDA’s Farm Service Agency and USDA’s Rural Development office as well as the Small Business Administration.
After you’ve gone through this process, you can begin the second half of work. Growing your business.
“Just don’t give up the first year. You’ve got to be dedicated for many years to see the results,” advises Hyre. “Just hang in there, and in several years, you’ll see those results you’re looking for.”
Preston County Workshop and Hickory Ridge Farm executive director, John Hyre, was a guest on the Positively West Virginia podcast. Listen to his full podcast here.