How much would an average one hundred acre farm cost?

columbine21(zone 6 , IL)January 15, 2010

Hi! I live in a small city with my parents and siblings. I have been wanting to own and operate a farm for a while. I would really appreciate it if someone could tell me on average what a hundred-acre farm would cost. I would love to be able to grow wheat and corn, have a large vegetable garden and a few animals. Right now I have no money...this is only at thinking stage,if you will. I am aware that a farm would probably cost a pretty penny.

Also, having no farmers in my family, I have alot to learn.

Does anyone have any ideas how I could get some farming experience before owning a farm? I do not know any farmers.

Well, if anyone could give me any answers, I'd appreciate it!


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If your in school, see if they have an agricultural program, join 4H. See if your folks would let you raise a garden, some chickens or rabbits, if you have a backyard these are possible even in town and will be valuable in giving you hands on experience.

As far as how much a hundred acre farm would cost, here in the Midwest corn belt, with tillable land to grow crops you mentioned, on average , with house and barns with some fence and good waer (no water no farm) you will be looking at a range of $400,000.00 - $800,000.00

Thats a huge chunk of change, then with a place that large you will need a tractor, implements, improvements, animals, and seed , once you get it up and running you will have spent in between $600,000.00 - $1,000,000.00. Folks like myself, I have 160 acres, have spent a life time working to the point were we are. I leased my farm from an older widower, whos children moved away and had no interest in farming. After a few years of leasing and befriending this gentleman he sold me the place for way under market price. So in the beginning you will be way better off renting or leaseing.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 2:49PM
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I don't know if 100 acres will be big enough to farm and make a profit. Out in eastern Washington, it takes a couple of thousand acres to be self-supportive. Most people grow wheat, but I don't know how much acreage it takes to make a profit with corn. The equipment to plant and harvest can be very expensive, at least with wheat.

That doesn't mean you can't look into smaller amounts of land for things like organic fruits, vegetables, truck farm, etc. Herbs and flowers can also be popular, especially in places like California, where you can grow things virtually all year round.

I think Josh has given you some excellent ideas. Start small with a garden and maybe some classes. Everyone should have a dream, and I think it's great that you're asking questions.

We live on about a hundred acres, which I (believe it or not) married into :) My husband inherited his grandparents place, which no one else wanted and I love living in the country...but it's not always easy. We have six horses (who have to be fed every day, no matter how much snow is on the ground). We do not farm, but have a large pasture and have some land in CRP (Crop Rotation Program) that will come out in a few years and we will probably try to grow enough grass hay to not have to buy it each summer. Grass hay for six horses (even with a big summer pasture) is over $3,000 a year. They're basically pets, so not everyone would have that expense (LOL).

If you look at property, be aware that some land is in what they call "open plains". Here, that means the taxes are relatively low, but the land cannot be developed without paying a large fee. This makes it difficult to find financing and banks that will loan money on the land...but not impossible.

There's something very wonderful about having your own space, but I think five or ten acres might be as good as one hundred. Again, do some research and see if farming is what you want to do. We actually work full-time to afford to keep the farm, but it's worth it for us.

Oh, and don't forget, there is often no pizza delivery, no stores nearby, and a good day is when the well is working, you have heat and power and all the animals are healthy. You absolutely learn to appreciate the "little" things in life that so many take for granted :)

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 8:22PM
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Ditto on the pros and cons.

I make a living on my farm, but not with crops like corn, and grains. lavender is totaly right about that. If You want to even try you need a couple thousand acres or better. I (as lavender mentioned) grow vegetables, 8 acres worth, of sustainably grown vegetables, this is what pays the bills. Anything a person does if they want to make living on a small farm has to be labor intensive, ( and now days anything less than a thousand acres is a small farm)which means corporate ag. can not or will not do it because they cant redily mechanise it in order to lessen labor cost. 8 acres of sustainably grown vegetables is a low input,not organic , I use herbicides, but not chemical fertilser or pesticide. I use hoop houses, and plastic. I sell to local dealers who sell to local customers, lowers trucking expenses and the carbon footprint.
I also raise pastured poultry, eggs, goat, and beef.

I recomend you go to the library and check out Joel Salatins book You Can Farm

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 8:00AM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

Marry a farmer.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 10:07AM
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dunwaukin(Ontario 5b)

if you were thinking of an organic farm (smaller acreage) there is an organization called wwoofers. it's a way to gain experience farming and see the world at the same time. It's difficult to start at the bottom in farming, but you aren't the first to aspire to a better life.
Acreage needed depends on where you live, and what type of farming you intend to do. Check out real estate listings to see what farms cost in your region, or any region you might be thinking of moving to.

Here is a link that might be useful: world wide opportunities on organic farming

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 11:53AM
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Luke- I understand many a fine farm has been lost by marrying the wrong person...who found farming didn't agree with them :)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 5:32PM
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columbine21(zone 6 , IL)

Thanks for the heads-up, everyone. I was homeschooled and will not be going to college, though I plan to take some online courses. As far as gardening goes, the place my family and I live right now has cement for a yard,lol.
For the past couple years, some friends have allowed me to garden using their backyards. Last year, I grew lots of tomatoes and other veggies. All my tomato plants were ruined by blight, but I'm looking forward to next year's garden already.
I am second oldest of fourteen kids so the work would be shared on a farm, though I know I'd have the brunt of it, which I wouldn't mind. I am no stranger to hard work.
As far as money goes, I guess renting or leasing will be the way I will have to start out, as you mentioned, Josh.
Either that, or I'll have to start out with a tiny piece of land.
My father buys wheat by fifty pound bags and honey by one hundred pound buckets...we grind our own flour. I would really like to grow our own wheat and have extra to sell.
I really appreciate your helpful suggestions, Josh, lavender_lass, and dunwaukin. Josh, I will check out that book you mentioned. And dunwaukin, I'll check out that link.
I feel like there are so many questions I could ask you guys, but I don't know where to start. But I WILL check out that book you recommended, Josh, and I will see what else I can find at my local library.
Oh,and Luke, I'm not looking to get married anytime soon,lol.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 3:59PM
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columbine21(zone 6 , IL)

Oh wow! I just checked out your link, dunwaukin, and I'm really excited!


    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 4:30PM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

Rebekah, You sound like a great person. I just have a feeling that you will be successful at whatever you set your mind to do. Rebekah, please don't discard college, there are many good agriculture schools and you will meet people with the same interests as yours. I wish you luck.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 5:32PM
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dunwaukin(Ontario 5b)

Rebekah -- did you see the list of countries that host wwoofers??I didn't realize there were that many. I think it's looked at as a safe way to see the world, but you're not going to make money doing it. There's such a list of different farming types, that you could learn a lot.
You sound like a great girl, good luck with whatever you do. And don't worry about coming back to ask questions.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 6:29PM
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This is from an old Ill. gal...born/raised in central Ill.
You are close to one of the best ag schools in the country...UofI! Go see what they offer...they may offer some on-line classes.
Here is another suggestion...start attending farm auctions in your area so you can see the prices of used equipment that you might need for your farm.

I once had a dream close to yours...I have ended up with 16.4 acres, but at my age is plenty!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2010 at 9:59PM
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columbine21(zone 6 , IL)

Luke, thanks for your good wishes.

Dunwaukin, thank you as well. Yes,there is a long list of countries that host wwoofers! I know I won't make money at being a wwoofer, but the experience alone I would gain is worth it, I think. I have been checking out farms close to where I live, using that website. Thanks again for the link!!

ga.karen, thanks for your helpful suggestions...I will check into them.

You all have been so helpful-Thanks!!


    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 5:51PM
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You might want to look into Farm caretaking. Folks who have farms occasionally take a vacation once in awhile and need someone who can care for the animals, etc. while they are away. This might be a good way to get some experience before deciding the type of farming you might like to do.

Also, try googling "Farm caretaking".

One of the links that pop up are for the Caretaker gazette. I had a subscription for years. Never applied for any of the positions, but I used to enjoy reading the ads for caretaking beautiful estates for ranch/farm/ and multiple home owners. They have sample ads at the website. Here is one example:


I NEED A HOUSESITTER and animal caretaker for the months of June to August for my home and animals outside of Selma. I have ten acres. I will need to show and teach the housesitter how to feed and care for my animals. The housesitter must be an animal lover to care for my horses, dogs, and cats. The horses do not need exercising or brushing. For more details, please email.... "

Links that might be useful:


    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 9:29PM
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Rebekah. Most farms today that are flat all tillable are selling between $5-10000 an acre. Where I live its closer to $20-50000 an acre. The sad truth is that even at the best commodity prices corn wheat and soybeans can barely cover the interest on your mortgage.Land prices today are influenced by economic forces outside the agricultural community by people who are interested in land only as an investment irrespective of its value in growing food... Bob

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 7:41PM
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Rebekah- Land prices are higher in some areas than others. I would suggest you look at land that is further from developed areas. We live a good half hour from the closest grocery store. The further out (especially with bad winters and more difficult commutes) the more affordable the land. However, in our area, if you get into the areas with the really big commercial farms, the land prices go up again.

Don't give up on your dream. In my opinion, land is never a bad investment, unless you buy when it's outrageously high. In our area, housing prices fell, but farmland did not.

Good luck with your research! I'm sure you'll learn a lot and hopefully have some fun :)

(Farm life can be a lot of headaches, but also rewarding. Walking through the pasture with the horses on a lovely summer evening is fun!)

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 10:00PM
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Good advice Lavender, and you are totaly right.

I live in Greene county IN, the largest county in IN in land size, and one of the least populated. We are in the top 10 counties as far as poverty, or lower incomes, we dont know were poor, we just know we aint rich LOL.
But neighboring us to the east is Bloomington IN, home of IU, one of the more wealthier counties, home to Monroe Resivoir, 11000 acres, and 16000 forest, and high land prices, 10000 - 30000 dollars per acre.
I live less than 10 miles from Monroe county line, 20 miles from Bloomington. But here land prices start at 1750 an acre for unimproved hilly ground, forested, to 5000 dollars an acre for open crop ground. My ground is a mixture, rolling to slightly hilly, small parcels of tillable 5-10 acres on top of hills, and below in valleys. Some woods, this kind of ground on open market goes for 2500-3500 dollars per acre.
Looking around, youll find different kinds of ground priced diferently, the more work the place needs the more negotiable the price, and a few miles can make a big difference in price. If its close to a popular recreation area the more expensive,

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 10:37PM
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columbine21(zone 6 , IL)

dreamgarden, sunnfarm3, lavender lass, and prmsdlndfrm,
Thank you all for your feedback! It is good to get perspective from experienced farmers like yourselves.
I won't give up on my may be some years before it can be realized, but I know farming is what I want to do and when I take the plunge, I won't regret it, hard work and all. I would like to have a farm way out in the country, far from town.
As far as animals go, I would like to have at least a few cows and horses and some chickens. Do you all have any animal breeds that you'd like to recommend?
Also I would want to have bees. Any feedback on that is appreciated as well.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 1:52PM
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islandmanmitch(z 8/9 FL)

Good deals on farm land can be found in South Alabama. Starting around a $1,000 per acre. Plenty of Alabama farm boys looking for a wife too.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 9:20PM
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