Savings Incentive Program

Beginning farmers: Receive guidance from a farm mentor and earn up to $4,800 while you work to complete or update your farm business plan.

Practical Farmers’ network of beginning farmers has increased to more than 1,500 in recent years. We created the Savings Incentive Program (SIP) based on input from these farmers with direction from our established farmer members as part of an effort to help beginners establish viable, sustainable farm businesses.

How it works

The two-year Savings Incentive Program works by encouraging enrollees to save up to $100 per month for two years. After 24 months and completion of all program requirements, participants will earn a dollar-for-dollar match on money saved up to $2,400, for a possible $4,800 to use toward the purchase of a farm asset. The program also pairs beginning and aspiring farmers with experienced farmer mentors; provides targeted learning and peer networking opportunities; offers business planning support and guidance; and gives participants the chance to save money while learning how to build a profitable farm.

The Savings Incentive Program is more than a dollar match, however; it is a program designed to help beginners succeed. Those enrolled will:

  1. Open and manage a savings account with Practical Farmers’ partner bank.
  2. Create or fine-tune a business or whole-farm plan
  3. Meet at least three times with an assigned mentor; once at beginner’s farm, once at the mentor’s farm and once at a place of their choosing
  4. Attend at least four Practical Farmers events per year (online, on-farm or in person). Practical Farmers events include online trainings, field days, conferences, workshops and more
  5. Conduct quarterly reviews via on-line with Practical Farmers staff to check on progress toward goals and program requirements
  6. Complete all forms and requested information on time

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the Savings Incentive Program, applicants must either be farming on their own now and have farmed for five or fewer years, or have some experience working for a farm business. This includes, but is not limited to: internships, apprenticeships, working as an hourly or salaried employee or working on the family farm. Applicants must also reside in Iowa or farm in the state (out-of-state residents are eligible, so long as they are farming in Iowa), and be Practical Farmers of Iowa members.

For questions about the Savings Incentive Program or application process, contact Julie Wheelock at (515) 232-5661 or [email protected] A competitive application process occurs each year (August – October) to determine program enrollment.

Call for applications open in mid-summer and ends early fall (August – October) A selection committee of experienced PFI members determine those accepted into the program. To build a strong application, consider the following:
1. If you are not already a Practical Farmers of Iowa member, sign up today!
2. Get involved in PFI by attending field days, our Next Generation Retreat, the annual conference or one of our many other events. A complete listing of PFI events is included on our calendar.
3. Start recording your farm’s mission, values, goals and financials for a draft business plan. Submitting a started business plan scores points in the selection process.

Contact Information

For more information regarding the Savings Incentive Program, contact Julie Wheelock at [email protected]