Practical Farmers of Iowa admits sixth round of beginning farmers into the Savings Incentive Program

For Release: January 8, 2016

Ames, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa has selected 12 beginning farmers from across the state to enroll as the sixth class in its Savings Incentive Program. Since creating this unique program in 2010, Practical Farmers has admitted 116 beginning farmers and helped them on the path to reaching their farming goals.

The two-year program pairs beginning and aspiring farmers with experienced mentors; provides targeted learning opportunities; offers business planning support and guidance; and gives participants the chance to save money and receive matching funds while learning how to build a profitable farm.

The newly enrolled beginning farmers will be part of the Class of 2017, and come from a variety of farming enterprises and regions of the state. Many currently raise or plan to raise some sort of livestock – most commonly poultry, but also cattle, hogs, goats, sheep and rabbits. More than half grow various fruits and vegetables for their local community; two raise row crops; and a few of the enrollees have unique enterprises such as maple syrup, dairy goats or hair sheep.

Although the new enrollees represent a wide range of enterprises, what they have in common is a desire to learn and to grow their operations. Amber Mohr of Fork Tail Farm in Avoca says, “We need the wisdom of experienced farmers. Our farm is ready to grow from new perspectives and additional investment.”

The 12 new Savings Incentive Program enrollees, listed alphabetically along with their hometowns, are:

1. Dani Bice – Marcus
2. Natasha Hegmann – West Branch
3. Daniel Heldt – Granger
4. Ta Kaw Htoo – Des Moines
5. Nick Koster – Tama
6. Jennifer Miller – Adel
7. Amber Mohr – Avoca
8. Caite Palmer – Castalia
9. Caleb Shinn – Osceola
10. Jacob Spece – Independence
11. Scott Yahnke – Crescent
12. Susan Young – Iowa City

Jennifer Miller is a beginning farmer entering her third year operating Clarion Sage Farm in Adel. A self-described “foodie,” she has written blogs and recipes for Martha Stewart, and handled communications for the Iowa Food Cooperative. While it was her love for food that led her to farming, she says she recognizes the importance of a solid business plan for running a successful farm.

“As my second year of farming concludes, I am realizing the absolute importance of solid financial plans and savings,” Jennifer says. “The value of having an established farmer guide me through financial goals would be of utmost help; it would bridge that gap with which I currently struggle.”

In addition to the benefits of mentorship and business plan guidance, the savings match will make it possible for many enrollees to take the next step in achieving their farm goals. The savings aspect of the Savings Incentive Program works by encouraging enrollees to save up to $100 per month for two years. Upon 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.

Caleb and Jacqueline Shinn operate L4 Farms in Osceola, raising cattle, laying hens and pastured poultry. They hope to expand by incorporating other livestock, such as hogs and milking goats, and by someday starting an aquaponics system in their greenhouse to produce vegetables year-round. With the savings match from the program, they intend to install irrigation and water retention system that would allow them to maximize pasture rotations through management-intensive grazing.

Practical Farmers will open applications for a seventh round of the Savings Incentive Program next fall. The Savings Incentive Program is part of Practical Farmers’ Next Generation Program, which helps more than 1,500 beginning farmers in Iowa and surrounding states network and learn from each other and experienced farmers through field days, farminars, workshops, retreats and other events. The program is made possible through contributions by an Assets for Independence grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Ceres Trust, Clif Bar, Farm Aid, and individual donations to Practical Farmers’ beginning farmer program.

To learn more about the Savings Incentive Program and the 12 new enrollees, visit http://practicalfarmers.org/member-priorities/beginning-farmers/savings-incentive-program/

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Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit http://practicalfarmers.org.

Contact:

Steve Carlson | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]