This article is a follow up to last week’s “Business or Hobby” article. It was first shared in January of 2022 in response to a question I had been asked by a relatively new subscriber in Arkansas. He asked, “What would be your recommendations for a small producer – 20 cows?

Without much thought, I quickly replied by saying, “Do things right, and get bigger.

After more thought, I decided his question deserved a longer answer. Many of our subscribers are small producers. The average cowherd size in the United States is just 44 cows. Nearly 30% of the cows in the United States are in herds of 50 head or less. I consider 50 cows or less to be a small herd. Most cow-calf operations with 50 cows or less are being subsidized with off-farm income. Therefore, I would classify them as a hobby – not a business.

If you are a small producer and if you really want to get bigger, you will make it happen. If you are a small producer with an off-farm job and if you really want to get rid of your off-farm job, you will do it. Get out of your small-farm paradigm and go to work! Others are doing it! Some who had nothing but a dream to start with are creating very profitable and successful businesses. Don’t allow your job to hold you captive. You can make just about anything happen if you want it bad enough.

For most cow-calf producers, land is the limiting factor. I’ve noticed that in most of the states with the highest number of small producers, there are almost always parcels of land sitting idle. Get out there and knock on some doors. Rent enough land to run as many cows as you want to run. However, you should remember the Cowboy Logic that says, “Never own more cows than your wife can take care of.

Too many small producers think they are literally tied to the land they own. That’s a tragedy! You had no choice about where you were born – but you can choose where you live. There is no law that says you have to stay in the same town or state you were born in. Many people can sell their small farm and purchase a much, much bigger farm somewhere else for the same money. Why not take full advantage of what you have?

Unless you have a very large savings account, I would discourage buying the land. If you do things right, you will eventually be able to purchase land with the profits you are making. Very few producers are doing things right. Therefore, many will eventually be forced to sell their land. That’s to your advantage! Do things right – and get ready to make some purchases.

If you are a small producer and if you want to stay that way, then I suggest you make the most and the best use of every acre you control. Consider adding more enterprises. Sell food products like beef, eggs, milk and/or vegetables directly to the end consumer. Small producers can be amazingly profitable if they put their mind to it. Stop making excuses – and make it happen!

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