Published Sep 13, 2013

Beginning Farmers NEED Front Office Staff Treatment

By Marc Strobbe

Practical Farmers of Iowa is taking applications for the Savings Incentive Program until October 4th. If the program could help you or someone you know please contact us today to apply.

Do you, or a beginning farmer you know, suffer from the following symptoms?

  • Your place of business is out in the Iowa countryside.

  • Your new business started primarily because you are passionate about it

  • The business is “in your blood” or what you grew up doing with your loved ones

  • Painful reactions to sitting at a desk or dealing with paperwork

  • Any symptoms remain until dirty, sweaty, using equipment, or with customers

  • Any combination of the above symptoms

If you say yes to any of the above you could have an acute case of Beginning Farmer Accountability-itis.

It is only natural to focus on the “real work” of farming outside producing things or connecting with customers. That is why most become Beginning Farmers in the first place. Can they become expert office dwellers, while also learning to farm, on their own?

Treatment for accountability-itis comes from either long-term experience, or a healthy dose of front office support staff. It takes time for experience to show how critical desk work is. And really, how many beginning farmers actually have access to support staff?

That is where the Savings Incentive Program can come in. It was designed by experienced farmers in the Practical Farmers of Iowa network to support beginners.

The program includes work with an experienced farm mentor, management of a farm savings account and eventual savings match, business plan support, and interaction with the Practical Farmers network. Participants manage all that with their own Practical Farmers support staff during quarterly reviews through the two year program.

When applied correctly it can be a potent antidote for Beginning Farmer Accountability-itis. But it is not a cure-all. Each participant drives their own treatment. As one put it; “the more you get involved, the more you get out of it.”

The words of others currently seeking treatment in the program:

“Accountability to completion of tasks…savings, business plan, learning from PFI events, meeting with mentors. All these wonderful things that I should be doing, but don’t always get around to.”

“Without the deadlines and goals required of SIP participation, I would not have moved forward with our farming plans as quickly. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

“Gets me to think of our plan, goals. I need encouragement to deal with things that are not emergencies or urgent.”

“The accountability has been good, but not burdensome.”

“…I appreciate the quarterly reviews a lot. It forces me to think about my plan and make sure I’m on track more often than I would if left to my own devices.”

“It has helped us set goals and quantify potential production, expenses, and income.”

“Between my advisory team and the accountability that the SIP program holds me to, I feel like I am so much further ahead than I would have been if I was on my own. Thanks so much for this program!”

Take the first step toward solving accountability-itis! Follow this link to get all the Savings Incentive Program information, including the current application form. Call the Practical Farmers office at 515.232.5661 to receive a paper application. All applications are due on October 4th!!!