Published Aug 30, 2013

Savings Incentive Program: Farm Savings & Savings Match

By Marc Strobbe

Practical Farmers is recruiting applications for the next round of Savings Incentive Program participants through October 4th. Specifically for beginning farmers, the program includes work with a mentor, participation in PFI events, quarterly reviews and staff support, business plan development, and management of a farm savings account.
The group being recruited now, up to 25, will bring the program total to near 80 beginning farmers!

Joel Winnes, SIP 2012, Waukon

As with any Practical Farmers of Iowa project the focus is on the farmer. The collection of services was identified by our farmer members as essential to help create viable farm businesses. The mentorship and business plan support seem to get all the attention, and rightly so. What about the money, how do the savings and savings match work?

The SIP participant can save up to $100 per month for the program’s 24 months. That $2400 is matched, dollar for dollar, by Practical Farmers when all program requirements are met. That means $4800 per program participant to be spent on a productive farm asset like land, infrastructure, breeding livestock, equipment, etc. It is enough to be helpful to the beginner but not so much to put them on easy street. Taken as a whole it is also a considerable investment in Iowa agriculture.

The 80 beginning farmers active in the Savings Incentive Program represent up to $384,000 invested in production agriculture in Iowa. $384,000!!! Quite a tally to have in the hands of beginning farmers committed to creating viable farm businesses. The money is theirs to invest as they see fit, as long as it is spent on an asset, not operating or annual costs.

Air Philavanh, SIP 2014, Milo

So, where does the money go? So far the savings matches paid-out cover quite a range of farm investments. One veggie farm used it to pay for the concrete and drainage work of a new pack house. Another bought a disc. Land was purchased with SIP money as part of the kitty by another farm. A couple beginners used the SIP money to pay down existing farm loans, one for custom haying equipment and the other, a dairy, to pay-off a TMR mixer. A grass-based farm applied the money to a loan that had paid for their water system. A compost tea brewing kit was purchased as well.

Ellen Walsh-Rosmann & Daniel Rosmann, SIP 2013, Harlan


The next group of SIP participants has a similar range of investments they are considering. Come winter we will be processing their payout requests for tillage equipment, walk-in coolers, online marketing resources, a share of an auger cart, breeding livestock, fencing, and much more.

What will the next group of program participants invest in? Those being recruited now will start making their investments in two years. Help us get more farm start-up money into the hands of the beginners that need it. Apply now, share this with someone who should apply, or send recommendations to us. All the information about eligibility and applying can be found here. Call or email the Practical Farmers of Iowa office for more information. 515.232.5661 or