Entrepreneurship: 5 tips to follow if you want to get into the agricultural sector

Agriculture is up to you. And Gaitani Sherry, a 37-year-old young farmer who took the initiative last May by settling on a variegated crop in Chavani (il-e-vilan), has no regrets: “Today, I am alone in my field happy to do what I want and to I live from it.” Like him, more than 13,400 new farms were registered in 2019. To get a foothold in the community, the first reaction: Make an appointment at the “installation reception point” organized by the cultivation rooms. For the rest, follow the guide.

lands. These are the nerves of war, however, warns François-Etienne Mercier, vice president of the Young Farmers’ Union: “Land can be a problem because wastelands are scarce.” Therefore, most of the installations are made in the state of restoration and not in construction, with the exception of very small structures of the organic gardening type on the market, which are easy to build taking into account the necessary surface (from 2 to 5 hectares).

To find land, contact the (Safer) Land Development and Rural Settlement Corporation in your neighbourhood. “Post ads in the press and on social networks to increase your chances,” also recommends Marie-Isabelle Le Bars, who is responsible for installation and dispatch to the Brittany Regional Chamber. Another resource is the Departure Installation Guide (RDI), a platform that brings together sellers and buyers (repertoireinstallation.com).

to delegate. In order to have the right to cultivate the land and become a farmer, you must obtain the consent of the owner and the administrative authorization to operate. This is required in the province, with the Directorate of Territories and the Sea (DDTM). It is obtained in two or three months. If a diploma is not required in order to be a farmer, it is preferable to have an equivalent agricultural baccalaureate degree, and two or three years of experience.

To gain the basics of the profession, claim aid and reassure the banks, follow the Chambers of Agriculture support system through the installation cycle. To deepen your skills, you can also follow the Personal Professional Plan (“3P Course”), which includes internships and coaching. It can be funded by the CPF and the Vivea Agricultural Training Fund. Information from the Chambers of Agriculture.

money. The type of production chosen has consequences for the cost of installation. If you buy a dairy farm, for example, you’ll have to invest up to 1 million euros to grab the land, equipment, and animals. “Land can cost up to 10,000 euros per hectare, and this could disrupt bank approval,” warns Christophe Alanek, installation director at the Chamber of Agriculture in Brittany. Therefore, most often, newcomers are not owners. They rent the land via various rural rental schemes which allow them to reduce their initial capital.

Safer, or the bank, via the ground transportation system, can rent out the surfaces you need for the first three or four years. For machinery and equipment, banks finance small farmers “in very good conditions,” assures Julien Lepont, director of Crédit Mutuel Longué (Maine-et-Loire). They look at the project as much as they look at the promoter, his experience and his motivation: “We require light guarantees, often linked to the funded assets (tractor, building), and consistent with the legacy of future operators. These are tentative guarantees to involve young people in the project.

The cultivation rooms will help you develop a business plan. A quantitative projection of the profitability of the operation over the first four years, is equivalent to a business plan. They can also tell you about support systems.

Primary law. You have the option of incorporating as a sole proprietorship or as a corporation. In 2016, two-thirds of farms were businesses. But corporate forms are evolving, whether in the form of limited liability companies, agricultural holding companies (SCEA), agricultural holdings limited liability (EARL) or joint agricultural groups (Gaec). Gaec is the most prevalent. Christoph Alanek recommends it, because “the most advantageous form with the transparency of CAP premiums or investment assistance multiplied by the number of partners.” The only compensation is the commitment to work 100% on the farm, to have an exclusive agricultural activity and to have only agricultural partners.

For small projects, it advises the least expensive company. To hire your first employees, you can contact Pôle emploi, an employer group or the National Association for Employment and Training in Agriculture (Anefa). Generally, seasonal workers (with Giants pre-screening status) will contact you directly.

social protection. As a farmer, you contribute to Agricultural Social Security, MSA. In the event of work stoppage, the daily bonus is €21.46 for the first twenty-eight days and €28.61 thereafter, ie a maximum of €858 per month. It is therefore in your best interest to join supplemental organizations. It is also best to provide agricultural replacement service in the event of a severe blow. Same advice for old-age contributions because, as Christoph Alanek warns, “the agricultural pension in points is insufficient.”

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The farm, a business like any other business?

  • Sources. in the agricultural sector, Most sales are done between neighbors, by word of mouth. Advertisements for the disposal or appropriation of agricultural land are more transparent than the sale of commercial assets.
  • exercise. The profession of a farmer, which is not regulated, does not require a specific diploma for its practice. On the other hand, in order to become a farmer, it is necessary to obtain permission from the manager of his department for the exploitation.
  • personal contribution. It is always easier to get bank financing when you have your own money. Provide prudential savings at least on a private basis. It makes it possible to ensure family life in the event of a severe blow.
  • condition. A farmer is an unpaid worker who enjoys the same rights as a self-employed person.
  • social protection. The situation of the MSA is very bad, as is the situation of the independents. Farmers must obtain additional health insurance to ensure income in the event of a disruption.

Remy Mercier, dairy and grain producer

“I was waiting for an opportunity”

Rémi Mercier © DR

After I got my agricultural bac and studies in agricultural machinery, I wanted to train on my own. But opportunities are rare and I can’t imagine settling within 20 kilometers from home. In 2020, when I was 22, I took over the farm next to my father’s farm: 70% of the forage area is devoted to dairy activities, and the rest is in grain. This acquisition perpetuates and expands the family business. My father and I have set up a joint agricultural group (Gaec). Thus we multiply the CAP premiums by the number of partners, i.e. two. This project, worth more than 1 million euros, has allowed us to regroup farms and dairy herds. Today, with 130 cows, we produce 1.2 million liters of milk annually, while continuing to multi-grain farming.

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