With lean commodity prices and no drastic changes in sight many farms and farm families are looking for new ways to supplement their farm income without taking jobs in town. Many of you already have diversified operations, you may have both livestock and row crops and still finding yourself needing a little more. Below is a list of 10 supplemental income ideas without having to take a 9-5 job in town.
1. Bee Keeping:
It is no secret that honey bees are struggling and scientist don’t quite know why. It is also no secret that honey is delicious. Many farms are finding a new cash flow source in raising honey bees.
Money can be made off of bees multiple ways: 1. Selling honey directly to the consumer. 2. Selling honey to a wholesaler 3. Selling bee by-product (aka wax) 4. Making and selling products made from the beeswax. 5. Renting out hives.
Due to bees and other pollinators having issues, there is now a market where beekeepers actually rent hives to growers as pollination tools. The principle is pretty simple, the beekeeper rents the hive full of bees to a grower whether it be a crop farmer, gardner, etc and in return the bees pollinates the growers plants and everyone is happy. The average hive rental is somewhere between $100-150 each.
2. Selling Manure:
If you have livestock of any kind, you have manure. More and more gardeners, landscapers, horticulturists, etc are using livestock manure to fertilize their plants. Whether it is plain ole manure or composted manure the demand is growing. I know many of you are spreading your manure on your farm fields but keep in mind that what you don’t use might be able to be sold. I know a local individual who raises show rabbits who sells the rabbit manure, and is compensated adequately.
3. Renting parking space:
Some farms have discovered that the little 2 acre pasture by the barn is making more money rented out for trailer, camper, RV, and boat parking than it was making by housing livestock. If you rather not have a bunch of other people’s stuff sitting outside near your farm, consider building a shed and renting out space. Space for trailers, RV’s, boats, etc is commonly rented per foot in length, locally the spots start at $20 per foot. This may make a building a new machine shed worth the cost. Many people who are doing this are building sheds a bit larger than what they personally need and keeping their equipment and things in one half while renting out the other.
4. Selling Produce:
You probably think I’m crazy at this point, especially after reading about bee rental, but pretty good money can be made selling produce. Since I am from Iowa I will use sweet corn as an example. Every summer people love to eat fresh sweet corn. What Wal Mart or the local grocery store has though, may be anything but fresh and often imported from the Southern U.S. With sweet corn season comes roadside sweet corn stands. Many of these stands this last summer were advertising their corn at $6-7 per dozen ears. Doesn’t take a math genius to tell you that there is pretty good money selling sweet corn. If you have a smaller field it may be something to consider. In other parts of the country selling fresh vegetables may also be a viable option. Other produce you can sell directly to the consumer may include strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb, or even firewood.
5. Renting to Photographers:
Many photographers like to go to farms for photoshoots. They may like a barn or building on your property, your grove, or an old dilapidated truck or tractor you forgot was sitting in weeds as a back drop. Don’t feel bad charging if a photographer knocks on your door and asks to use your farm, but keep it realistic. If the photographer asks they probably won’t mind paying $10 for that photo session as long as you don’t allow every other photographer in the county to due the same. Try making an “exclusive deal” with a photographer. An example may be to charge $5 for every photo session but you will give them exclusive access to your farm. It may not be much, but then again you never know, you may end up with $20 extra every month.
6. Renting your farm as a Wedding or Event Venue:
Many farms now are offering space for outdoor weddings and other events. This can be challenging. There are some liability issues, so you’ll want to talk to an insurance agent about this before deciding to to do it. You also may not want to deal with the noise and commotion if you live on site (though you’d likely have to be there anyway to monitor things). What is also becoming popular is using old barns for weddings and receptions. If you have a barn that you aren’t keeping livestock in this may be a good use of it with a few renovations.
7. Leasing ground to Hunters:
If you have some timber, CRP, or any other good wildlife habitat and you aren’t a hunter yourself, this is an excellent opportunity to make some extra dough. Many hunters don’t mind paying for a hunting lease on good land. From white tail deer to wild turkey to game birds such as pheasant and quail if you have the habitat and animals the hunters will come. Even in places such as South Dakota and Kansas people will actually pay land owners to shoot vermin such as prairie dogs and coyote. Keep in mind this may also require you to purchase some sort liability coverage.
8. Ag Tourism:
Ag. Tourism is huge. In rural communities all across the country people are capitalizing on Ag. Tourism. Consider building a corn maze, planting a pumpkin patch, apple orchard, Christmas tree farm, a haunted house in a barn/outbuilding. All of these will bring in people and give you a way of advertising your new bee rental business 😉
9. CRP: Now before anyone gets mad, I’m not talking about putting every acre you own into CRP. I like to see land in production just as much as the next person but in some circumstances CRP is the way to go. If you have a smaller tract of qualifying land that doesn’t produce the best crops, CRP may be your best option. This is especially true if it is a part of any crucial watershed. Right now it is not uncommon for the CRP rate to be higher than the cash rent would be if rented to a crop producer. For example I know an individual who just enrolled a field that is a little over 6 acres into the program. He was currently getting less than $70 per acre in rent. This field has a pretty decently sloped hill that tends to get wet in the bottom in the spring time and cooks on the top in the dead of summer. The field has been farmed for 25+ years and never really produces real great. It also borders a creek on one side that dumps into a lake. The CRP rate is just a hair over $300 per acre. It was an easy decision for him to make. There are cost share programs available for the preparation, seeding, and maintenance of the CRP as well.
10. Run your own Ag. Business:
Some of you will really like this idea and many of you will run from it. Owning and running your business certainly isn’t for everyone. Some farmers are providing skilled trade such as welding for some extra income. Others are doing custom farm work such as tillage, planting, harvesting and spraying. While some are turning to becoming local dealers/sales reps. There is always a need for salespeople for seed, net wrap, chemical, surfactants, fertilizers, etc. Many of these positions are commission based so you can grow as large or stay as small as you feel comfortable with. If you’d like more on becoming an ag. sales rep, send us an email and we can discuss how you can get started.