It’s tough to get started in farming, and just because you get in, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to stay. The Practical Farmers of Iowa have a program to help aspiring farmers by utilizing seasoned veterans.
Marc Strobbe, the program coordinator for the Farmer Viability Project and the Savings Incentive Program. He says beginning farmers appreciate both how comprehensive the project is, and the opportunity to work with an expert, be it on the business side or production side of agriculture.
There are some hoops to jump through, however:
- • Meet with the farmer at least 3 times during the first year
- • Attend at least 4 Practical Farmer events
- • Create or fine tune a business plan
- • Open and manage a savings account with the Practical Farmers Bank
- • Complete reports on time
But those requirements are by no means a deterrent. Strobbe says it’s tough to understate the diversity of farms he sees on applications for the project.
We’re actually kind of getting excited now as this round of applications come in, to see what’s new, because we thought we had everything possible before, then last year a mushroom farm showed up, and we realized there’s probably a lot of things yet we don’t have.
We’ve got dairies – sheep and goat dairies, in addition to regular cow dairies – we’ve got row crop farmers, niche pork farms, vegetable farms. Anything out there, you name it, we’ve got it.
The final incentive: if they stay with the program for 2 years, Practical Farmers matches their savings account, up to $2400.
The deadline for the coming year is October 4. Read more about efforts to help aspiring farmers at PracticalFarmers.org.