Published May 19, 2015

Didn’t You Hear? PFI Members on the Radio!

By Steve Carlson

This year has seen a flurry of radio coverage on a wide variety of topics featuring our members as experts. Since Practical Farmers of Iowa was founded in 1985, we’ve recognized our farmers as innovators, educators, and experts, but it’s especially nice to hear them educating Iowan’s far beyond our network.

There’s not much of a better way to start your day than to flip the radio on and find yourself listening to one of our members talk about an issue they’re passionate about. Chances are, you’re passionate about it too. We try our best to feature these “members in the news” in our weekly Practical News e-mail, but in case you missed these stories we’ve compiled them here. Enjoy.

From the Public News Service:

Splitting Heirs: Iowa Farm Transfers are Family Concerns

  • Executive Director Teresa Opheim and Iowa’s Poet Laureate and PFI member Mary Swander were featured in this story about the work Practical Farmers of Iowa is doing to address land-transition issues, including sessions at the 2015 Annual Conference as well as the play “Map of My Kingdom” written by Swander.

More Beginning Farmers, Despite Iowa Farm Declines

  • In response to a USDA report that indicates a decline of roughly 500 Iowa farms in 2014, PFI member Angela Johnson of Lucky George Farm was featured as an enthusiastic beginning farmer in Iowa. Angela and her husband Jason started up a conservancy livestock operation and cited Practical Farmers of Iowa as a huge help in overcoming the many barriers beginning farmers face.

A Challenge to Iowa Farm Conservation: Absentee Landowners

  • As a landowner whose involved in how his tenant farmers manage the land, PFI member Clark Porter has recognized the issue of absentee landowners as a barrier to incorporating conservation practices on Iowa farms. More than half of Iowa farmland is farmed by someone other than the owner, which can cause problems when it comes to making management decisions.

Pesticide Drift: A Years-Long Loss for Iowa Organic Farms

  • Having been the victim of a pesticide drift incident twice now, organic producer Andrew Dunham of Grinnell Heritage Farm joined Paul Ovrum of the Iowa Department of Agriculture to raise awareness about the issue and encourage organic growers to sign up for the Sensitive Crops Registry.

From Iowa Public Radio:

Paying Farms Not to Farm? Not Exactly

  • PFI members Matt Russel and Dick Sloan each talk about how their farms are utilizing federal commodity support programs to diversify and incorporate more sustainable practices. The concept of “base acres” was introduced to the farm bill in the 1990’s to create an incentive to grow different crops; payments are based on commodity production in years past, rather than current acres planted.

Iowa Water Lawsuit Calls Some Farming Practices Into Question

  • Airing on both National Public Radio and Iowa Public Radio, PFI member Nathan Anderson was interviewed about the rye he planted as a cover crop in an effort to keep nitrates from leaving his fields.

Farm Internships: Lots of Laughter, Lots of Weeding

  • This episode of Talk of Iowa featured PFI members Kate Edwards of The Farming Institute (and Wildwoods farm), Rick Hartmann of Small Potatoes Farm, and Jack Davis of Beanstalk Farm as well as PFI staffer Steve Carlson to discuss the importance of getting on-farm experience for beginning farmers.

CSA’s Get Creative to Compete in Crowded Market

  • Addressing the exponential increase in farms operating as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), this Iowa Public Radio story featured Alice McGary of Mustard Seed Farm, Dan Beougher of 7 Pines Farm, and Corry Bregendahl of the Leopold Center. Mustard Seed is a unique not for profit service farm, and 7 Pines has incorporated both meat and personalized recipes into their CSA shares.

As always, if you or one of your PFI friends has been featured in the media, let us know! Send the details to