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The Farming Game® "The Game Invented On the Seat of a Tractor" - Now for PC, Mac, and Linux!
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Instructions for The Farming Game® - Software Edition for PC, Mac, & Linux

Click here to view instructions for the board game.


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Farmhouse Modern farming requires a strong back for the work, a strong heart for the risks, and a good mind for the figures. The American family farm is a tough place to make a living. Unit profits (per calf, per bushel of wheat sold, etc.) are so small that it takes huge amounts of capital to put together a large enough farming operation (the land, equipment and money to operate) to support a family. About half of this nation's two million farmers or their spouses work an outside job so they can stay on the farm. They are "Weekend Farmers", farming early mornings, nights and weekends, trying to get that next piece of land, a tractor, a harvester; to finally farm big enough to afford to quit that darn job in town and come home and farm full time.


Object Of The Game

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A board game is a dream machine, a vehicle to create an alternative reality. In The Farming Game®, each player starts the game with 20 acres inherited from Grandpa. This property includes 10 acres in hay and 10 acres in grain. The 20 acres is not a large enough farm to make a living for a family, so each game farmer must also have a part-time job in town. With each completed year you receive $5,000 from your year's wages to plow back into the farm. The object of The Farming Game® is to build your farm large enough to be able to quit the job in town, come home to be your own boss, and farm full time. If you can do that without going broke, you win the game!

$250,000 in total net assets are required to win The Farming Game®. The gaming track is the calendar year, with a square for each week. Crops are harvested by a virtual roll of the dice (about as much control as real farmers feel they have over yields and prices received for their crops). In The Farming Game®, there is enough acreage for six players to diversify into a hay, grain, fruit, or cattle operation. Each individual farm is capable of pasturing 20 head of cattle. If any player wishes to run more than 20 cows, he can lease one of the range units in the hills.

Starting the Game

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At the start every player inherits 20 acres from Grandpa, but has no cash. Having no cash, players must borrow money from the bank to operate the first year. Because each new farmer owns 20 acres, worth $40,000, and works a part-time job to bring in extra income, the bank has extended a $50,000 line of credit. Each player receives $5,000 in cash as a loan and a $5,000 bank note as a record of that loan. Debts to the bank may be repaid at any time. Each player also receives two Options to Buy. A roll decides who goes first; all players start from Christmas Vacation.


Purchasing Property, Equipment, & Buildings

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The only time in The Farming Game® when you may purchase property is during the winter, between and including Christmas and Spring Planting (second week of April). Winter is the time to plan and prepare for the coming crop season, and any desired purchases not made before Spring Planting must wait until the following winter. The bank requires a cash down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price to exercise an Option to Buy in purchasing property or equipment. (For example: if you wish to purchase 10 acres of hay worth $20,000, you must have 20%, or at least $4,000 in cash, and, if you have sufficient credit, you may borrow the balance, $16,000.)

Silo If playing The Farming Game® - Software Edition in Enhanced mode, you can also purchase buildings (windmill, silo, barn, etc.) after Spring Planting until Harvest Moon (third week of September). Some buildings give additional bonuses to crops. The same borrowing rules apply for buying buildings as for buying property.

Your bank expects you to be a good manager and have adequate cash on hand during the game. If your bills leave you with no cash on hand you have only two options to raise needed operating cash: (1) borrow operating money from your neighbors at whatever rate and terms you can negotiate, or (2) borrow more money from the bank on your line of bank credit (if you are out of cash, have used up your credit, and still owe on unpaid bills, you are bankrupt! See section on Bankruptcy). The bank will only make new loans for $5,000 of operating cash. The bank charges a 20% penalty loan fee to refinance (player receives a $5,000 bank note but only $4,000 in cash).


Harvesting Crops and Operating Expenses

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Harvests fall within certain date ranges throughout the year (for instance, wheat is harvested between the fourth week of July and the fourth week of August). Crops are harvested on the first week of the date range in which a player lands. If, for example, on the next turn a low roll doesn't move the player to the next harvest zone, he does not harvest that same crop again, and if he has landed on a square that would negatively affect his crop, he is safe from the disaster if his crop has already been harvested. After rolling the die to harvest the crop, the harvest rate chart is used to determine how much money the crop is worth. (For example: if you own 10 acres of hay and you have rolled the maximum, the harvest is worth $3,000, plus any applicable bonuses from buildings) Before receiving any cash from your harvest, however, you must always pay your bills. An Operating Expense is drawn and applied to your harvest. (Net income from the harvest: harvest value minus operating expense equals income.) If your bills are larger than the harvest value, you must make up the difference from cash on hand.

Crop land and livestock are units of sustained production, harvesting sells the output (hay, grain, fruit, or calves), not the land or cows themselves.

Options To Buy (OTB's)

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Fruit Grove An Option to Buy is necessary to acquire property and equipment. To exercise the option, one must be able to pay for the purchase in cash or a combination of cash and bank financing. When you land on an OTB square, you receive a new OTB. Each is yours to keep until you exercise it or sell it to another player. OTB cards may only be exercised during the winter, between and including Christmas Vacation and Spring Planting of each year.

OTB cards may be sold to other players for whatever free-market price a buyer and seller can agree on. (For example: cash and /or a percentage of future crops.) The only ownership limit in the game is that the "farm" in the valley will only handle 20 cows (eating crop residue and pasturing after the hay is cut). If a player wants more cows, he must exercise an option to buy on one of the ranges, such as Toppenish Ridge or Rattlesnake Ridge.

Farmer's Fate

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Certain squares also trigger a Farmer's Fate. Farmer's Fates are occasionally good (market moves in your favor, oil company pays you to use your land), but usually bad (loan payments, contaminated feed, drought, etc.) Farming is an uncertain business and you never know what might happen!


Owning Equipment

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The assumption in The Farming Game® is that small farmers don't own a tractor or harvester and must rent that equipment until they can afford to buy used equipment for themselves. When a player receives a bill for an equipment expense, he pays the bill to the bank unless a neighbor owns that equipment. In this case, payment would be made directly to the equipment owner. (For example: if the bill is "Pay $2,000 if you don't own a tractor," and only one player has a tractor, you pay him the $2,000. If two neighbors own tractors, those players split the payment, $1,000 each, etc.)

Bank Loans

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The bank requires the players to have at least 20% down in cash to purchase property. Each player can then borrow the rest from the bank, up to a maximum of $50,000. (For example, to buy 5 acres of fruit valued $25,000, a player must have at least $5,000 cash for a down payment, and may borrow the balance of $20,000 from the bank, taking $20,000 in bank notes to show his indebtedness.) The bank also pays and/or collects all monies, including harvest income or expenses. The bank does not buy back unwanted or over-leveraged property.

Doubling or Halving Harvests

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Hay Bale Certain squares double the value of your hay or corn harvests for the rest of the year. (Note: doubling "corn" means corn only and not wheat.) If you have already doubled your harvest and land on a square that says to double it again, you receive four times the harvest income, and so on.

When bad weather cuts a harvest check in half, that reduction is taken from your harvest income before applying your Operating Expense.


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If a player gets in a situation that requires more cash than he has on hand, he may borrow (providing there is room left on the credit line) from the bank in $5,000 increments, paying a 20% refinance penalty fee for not properly managing his finances. If the player has already borrowed to his maximum bank credit of $50,000 and has bills that require more cash than he has on hand, he is bankrupt. He may then try to sell movable assets (cattle or equipment) to neighbors at reduced prices. If sufficient money is not raised immediately, all options have been exhausted and he is out of the game.

The End of the Game

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Hill with Win Sign The goal of The Farming Game® is to quit the job in town and become a full-time farmer. This is accomplished by accumulating $250,000 in net assets. The first player to acquire $250,000 in total assets is the winner. An audit is conducted of all players when the player with $250,000 finishes the calendar year and reaches Christmas.

The Farming Game® - Software Edition may also be played to an agreed-upon number of turns. When the turns are up, an audit is conducted and the player with the highest value in net assets wins.


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During an audit, each player counts up total cash, adds the value of their property and equipment based on the original purchase price, and subtracts the value of bank notes held. Leases have no value other than the value of the cows themselves ($500 per cow - half the total value of the lease). Since leased land is rented, not owned, it is an expense and not an asset.

It is possible that more than one player can have in excess of $250,000 in net assets and become a full-time farmer and, therefore, a winner, but the player with the highest total assets is the official winner. Congratulations!

The Yakima Valley

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The Yakima Valley is a real place in the State of Washington, USA. The Yakima Valley has a very mild climate which enables the farmers there to grow over 20 different crops. The Yakima Valley is most famous for the high quality apples and cherries grown there and marketed all over the world.


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The names are indigenous. Toppenish Tah'pen ish), Wapato (wah' pa toe), Harrah (Hair' a), Satus (Say tus), Roza (Rose' a), Yakima (Yak' im a).

Most-Asked Questions

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  • Is grain acreage wheat or corn?
    Owning grain acreage allows you to harvest both crops, should you be lucky enough to get to both harvests during the same year. The same applies for fruit acreage - you may harvest both cherries and/or apples if you own fruit.

  • Operating Expenses that are listed per acre (like fertilizer), do they apply to just the crop you are harvesting or all acres?
    Unless the bill is crop specific (example: per hay acre...), it applies to all acres owned or shares of acreage held in partnership.

  • Can more than one person lease a ridge?
    The ridges with their finite cow carrying capacity are first come, first served. Once they are leased, they are taken.

The Farming Game® and The Farming Game Folks

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The Farming Game® really was invented on the seat of a tractor. It happened in a hay field just as the sun was coming up in early July 1979. George Rohrbacher, a rancher from Central Washington State, was driving that tractor. He and his wife Ann were struggling to hold on to their family farm. With two droughts within three years they, and many of their neighbors were losing that battle. George and Ann literally bet the ranch the game idea would work and mortgaged everything that wasn't nailed down to produce the first edition of The Farming Game®. The game, which was first assembled by the handicapped at Portland's Goodwill Industries, has now sold several hundred thousand copies. Beyond being a fun family game, it has also been used in schools all over the world. In 1994 the World Bank sent George to Russia to oversee the translation of The Farming Game® into Russian to assist the farm privatization effort after the breakup of the Soviet Union; (the board game is now also available in a Russian language version).

The Farming Game® has sprouted new crops: a software edition and a book. It has been adapted for PC, Mac, and Linux, and is available for sale now through this site.

The Rohrbacher family Also available is "Zen Ranching and The Farming Game®, the humorous story of life on the farm and the birth of The Farming Game® by George Rohrbacher, published in 1997. This is a story of a family effort that became larger than the sum of its parts. Prompted by hundreds of calls and letters, George wrote much more than a "how to invent and market a game" book, he also captured a little lively piece of country living, and a fun inside look at life beyond the blacktop.

For order information on the book or games you can call
or write to:

The Weekend Farmer Co.
P.O. Box 896
Goldendale, WA 98620
or visit their website at

Copyrights and Trademarks

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The Farming Game is a registered trademark of George Rohrbacher and The Weekend Farmer Co., PO. Box 896, Goldendale, WA 98620. The Farming Game®, as described in these instructions, the game board, card, vinyl acreage stamps, "Weekend Farmer" markers, instructions and box design, all Copyright 1979 George Rohrbacher. The Russian language version of The Farming Game® is Copyright 1994, George Rohrbacher. All unauthorized copies and/or adaptations of this game are illegal.

The licensed software edition of The Farming Game® is copyright© 2012 Game Masterminds, 1731 Smizer Mill Rd., Fenton, MO 63026. All content on this site, with the exception of a couple items copyrighted by The Weekend Farmer Co. and used with permission, is also copyright or licensed by Game Masterminds.

Site Copyright © 2012 Game Masterminds  •  1731 Smizer Mill Rd., Fenton, MO 63026  •  info@thefarminggame.net  •  Facebook
The Farming Game® is a registered trademark of George Rohrbacher and The Weekend Farmer Co.