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CPA to farmer - soon?
Old 05-26-2010, 08:17 PM   #1
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CPA to farmer - soon?

Hi all - newly registered member making my way around this website. I am 55 and have worked at a small CPA firm for the past 33 years. Currently I am managing partner with all of the stress that goes with it. Several years ago we purchased a small farm about 3 hours from where we live. As much as we love spending time there (or at least I do), I am realizing more and more that it may be a mistake, or at the least a premature purchase that perhaps should have been put off for a while. While there has been some appreciation, carrying 2 houses has been a financial strain and also a physical strain from a maintenance aspect. Don't believe I have the financial assets to retire now or in the next few years (hoping to semi-retire at 60). My utopia would be to continue working part time as an employee in a CPA firm near my farm- spend my winters doing taxes - and the rest of the year tending to a "gentleman's farm". I guess I am just looking to hear thoughts, advice and experiences of others who have been there or who are further along the road than I am. Thanks!!!
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:49 PM   #2
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Welcome! It sounds like you are well on your way - congrats!

FWIW, our experience was that owning two houses (in different states - when the military re-stationed us, we rented out our "permanent" home and bought another one at the new location) was stressful and no fun. It makes me very reluctant to consider ever owning two places again, even if they're both just for us.
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Old 05-27-2010, 09:14 AM   #3
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Fact is you have two places now and sounds like you are not thinking of selling the farm at this point. Are you married and does your SO like the farm as well? If not sounds like a problem. Is there enough to keep you occupied from a cultural perspective at the farm? If not you may get bored? Otherwise sounds like it could work.
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Old 05-27-2010, 09:19 AM   #4
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If I didn't have the "financial assets to retire now" I would sell the farm (if that's possible today) and invest it in an asset class that has some better appreciation possibilities.

Three hours sounds too far away to get enough use out of it......
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Old 05-27-2010, 09:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Argylebound View Post
My utopia would be to continue working part time as an employee in a CPA firm near my farm- spend my winters doing taxes - and the rest of the year tending to a "gentleman's farm". I guess I am just looking to hear thoughts, advice and experiences of others who have been there or who are further along the road than I am. Thanks!!!
I had this sort of lifestyle for a while when I was younger. It is unbelievably hard work, there is literally always something calling for your attention. It is hard to get away for trips, amenities and services are often a really unhandy distance away, and you may find yourself longing for a more varied social life. Also, I do not think that a work season winding up around April 15 would be a very good fit for any working or quasi working farm unless you are very far north.

I had children and a wife who was at that stage onboard with the project. I truly enjoyed raising my kids there, and I think the experiences helped make them the strong and successful men that they are today. My wife was a big contribution, however she was a city person and ultimately could not find a way to re-introduce more urban things into her life. So one day she was gone. No place for a single man or woman.

Another member of this board who no longer posts bought a small fairly primitive farm when she retired. She tried hard, but ultimately (3 years?) gave up and moved on.

If I still wanted a farm, and if I had the money and lived say in the Midwest I would buy some quality cropland and be a true farmer-the guy who gets most of the money and none of the scutwork. I most areas high yielding land is very easy to lease. Carefully chosen so that it is suitable for big machinery and in a farming district it can be an indexed bond with a good coupon. And you may qualify for one or another government gravy train.

The best part of farming is watching your tenant's trucks unloading your grain at the elevator, and counting the money.

Ha
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Old 05-27-2010, 11:02 AM   #6
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No experience myself.... but I would take Ha's advice ....

My boss has a ranch where he raises cattle... as he says, "I got two full time jobs with overtime for each"... he probably works a total of 80 hours a week... he does not take a lot of vacations.. and his debt level is way to high for me... but, he has a great place that is worth a LOT more than he paid..

I just think that most people who want to go the 'Green Acres' way under estimate the time commitment they will have to put into the farm...

I would much rather just have a large piece of land to live on and not try to be a farmer...
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Old 05-27-2010, 11:35 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Argylebound View Post
Hi all - newly registered member making my way around this website. I am 55 and have worked at a small CPA firm for the past 33 years. Currently I am managing partner with all of the stress that goes with it. Several years ago we purchased a small farm about 3 hours from where we live. As much as we love spending time there (or at least I do), I am realizing more and more that it may be a mistake, or at the least a premature purchase that perhaps should have been put off for a while. While there has been some appreciation, carrying 2 houses has been a financial strain and also a physical strain from a maintenance aspect. Don't believe I have the financial assets to retire now or in the next few years (hoping to semi-retire at 60). My utopia would be to continue working part time as an employee in a CPA firm near my farm- spend my winters doing taxes - and the rest of the year tending to a "gentleman's farm". I guess I am just looking to hear thoughts, advice and experiences of others who have been there or who are further along the road than I am. Thanks!!!
I just read an article in Readers Digest, "That's Outrageous" about how farmers (some pretenders) are getting paid to farm or not to farm.
You should look into signing up to not farm
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Old 08-22-2010, 04:40 AM   #8
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This is an interesting topic and close to my heart. Wife and I are not retired yet, but on the way there. We own 8 farms/ranches in several states and another country (affectionly known as "Godzone" by the locals, if you know where that is).

Being a "gentleman" farmer is a money-losing proposition. Better bet is to lease them out for locals and get an income stream. Ideally if you do it right, you would buy farmland fairly close to a metro area, lease them out for positive (if paltry) cashflow, and then hope that the metro area expands in a decade or two, making the land potentially very valuable for development. There's no guarantee, of course, but the potential payoff could be lucrative. At the very least, good crop land will most likely keep up with inflation. You would also get ag exemption to eliminate most of your property taxes. As the previous poster has indicated, it's also possible to enroll your land in CRP (crop rotation program) where the government pays your money to do nothing with your land. There are a few people I know who buy up farmland, go through the trouble of enrolling land in CRP, and then either reap either income stream, or sell them to other retirees to make a profit.

Bottom line: if done right, farmland could be a good investment, but don't be a farmer yourself. It doesn't pay, especially if you have small parcels and don't have the economy of scale. If you have enough cash to burn and don't mind losing money being a weekend hobby farmer, that's one thing. But don't expect to make any money out of it being a farmer yourself.
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Old 08-22-2010, 05:05 AM   #9
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There are many people who have not worked on a farm that have notions of a simpler life farming. That is usually someone that has never done it. People I know who tried it found out otherwise.

Not sure what you mean by Gentleman Farmer. If that means raise a garden or try to make a small profit for partial income?

It is a business with many risks and hard work. Many would be farmers have financial difficulties for a variety of reasons.

My suggestion would be to consider selling the Farm. Take your time to get a decent price.

If you want to live in the country and grow a garden... sell your house and farm and buy a house on a couple of acres in the country.
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Old 08-22-2010, 07:49 AM   #10
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You could also look into the option of taking on partners for the farmland. Ideally, these partners would be more hands on, while you would be the money since you're bringing the land to the table.

Myself, I'd probably sell the land (or hold and sell if there's a possibility of appreciation), and go volunteer at a CSA a couple times a year.
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Old 08-22-2010, 09:08 AM   #11
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I grew up on a small farm and loved it. We had two farms and lived on one. I also knew that I did not want to farm full are part time in life. It is way more work than people realize and the pay is not there. My Mom still has the second farm but does not live on it. I rent it out to someone who runs cattle on it. I also rent the old house that was on it out. It has been the best rental we have ever had and now is the only one.

At this point I still have no plans to ever live on the farm as it is a lot of work and very limiting time wise. A farm is like having small children. It needs to be watched and cared for constantly. It also can not be packed up for travel so you have to have a babysitter whenever you are gone. DW and I like to travel way to much for that!
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Old 08-22-2010, 11:15 AM   #12
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I agree with most of what's been said already. If you're not a farmer 'by trade' the best bet would be a straight cash rent. If you wanted to go a step further and actually market some of your produce, a type of tenant farmer agreement is a good way to go. An estimate of how productive a farm might be is to find the CSR (crop suitability rating). A CSR around 70 is considered pretty decent ground.

Depends on the area perhaps, but my understanding is that CRP is Conservation Reserve Program. You would be paid per acre to remove acres from crop production and restore to native grasses and/or trees. If you have existing non cropped acres you don't get paid for leaving them non cropped. IIRC those CRP contracts are 10 years.
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:38 PM   #13
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Have you read any of the books or web sites on urban homesteading? Maybe you could have one house in or near the city with a decent size yard for chickens and crops. We have various friends that live in the city but raise chickens, have back yard gardens or have replaced their lawns with vegetable gardens.

In another forum I belong to a number of the people are into square foot gardening, which is a method of gardening to yield a lot of food from a minimum amount of space and effort.
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Old 08-24-2010, 01:01 PM   #14
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Just my 2 cents (and probably overcharging at that).....
I assume that by "gentleman farming" you mean a hobby/non-commercial farm for your own pleasure. If you plan on making a living or supplementing your income from farming, I agree wih the above posts - farming is a tough row to hoe.
We bought counrty property ten years ago with the plan of moving north (away from hurricanes and fire ants) when we retired. After ten years of planning, we had an epiphany that the move was too far from the roots we'd put down, and ultimately bought a country porperty near where we lived and raised our kids. We are now in the process of trying to sell a beautiful property that no longer meets our needs (of course, in a down real estate economy).
While maintenaning two properties always seems to be 3 times what it would be on one property, I remind myself that if I had not had the brass ring of dreaming and making plans about moving to the country place, I probably wouldn't have been able to put up with the corporate nonsense and continue saving as long as I did. So I am trying to convince myself that it actually was an investment in maintaning mental health rather than a financial investment...lol
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Old 08-24-2010, 01:55 PM   #15
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By "gentleman's farm", I infer that he means a small country acreage with house and a few outbuildings, rather than a serious farming operation. It sounds like his related activities would be limited to puttering around, as a sort of hobby (I don't see any indication that he intends to plant substantial crops or look after livestock). If that is indeed correct, whether his dream is realistic or not probably comes down to whether he can find part-time seasonal accounting work in the local area.

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Welcome! It sounds like you are well on your way - congrats!
The congratulations may be premature. At this point, the only information we have is that he has worked as a CPA for the past 33 years but will not be able to retire for the foreseeable future.
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