A few years ago at a New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference, Richard Wiswall (The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook: A Complete Guide to Managing Finances, Crops, and Staff—and Making a Profit) presented a talk on farm profitability with a fellow farmer, who opened the talk by saying, “Sometimes I think I should have listened to my parents and become a doctor or a lawyer—but you know, I don’t think I could take the pay cut.”
Some people are very resistant to the idea that one can go into farming with the idea that it is a business from which they can make money. But farmers provide a valuable service and product—the most valuable product there is, if you think about it. And they deserve to be fairly compensated, just like doctors deserve to be compensated.
No, people who go into farming don’t usually say, “I’m doing it because I want to make a lot of money.” But there’s nothing immoral or cynical about it. And you don’t necessarily have to break your back toiling from dusk till dawn to do it. Not if you farm smarter, not harder, as Richard Wiswall says.
In this interview on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Wiswall discusses the nuts and bolts of the business of organic farming.
Most people who go into organic farming do so because they love to get their hands in the dirt, or they want to play an active role in producing food. Making a lot of money or managing a budget doesn’t usually top the list.
Richard Wiswall is a longtime organic farmer and East Montpelier resident who says the business side of organic farming can’t be ignored.
Photo: VPR/Jane Lindholm