Published Sep 18, 2015

Savings Incentive Program: It’s All About Those Assets

By Julie Wheelock

What exactly is behind the “Incentive” of the Savings Incentive Program? As the name implies, beginning farmers enrolled in the program are encouraged to make regular deposits into a savings accounts with the incentive of receiving a 1:1 match on money saved – up to $2400 – for a potential lump sum of $4800 to be used towards a farm asset purchase. That’s a pretty good return on your dollar.

Think of the assets a farmer could buy with $4800…  By definition, an asset is anything an entity owns, benefits from, or has use of, in generating income. SIP graduates have purchased trailers, trucks, walk-in coolers, breeding livestock, tractor implements, water systems, high tunnels, farmland loan payments, fencing, tools, logo design, and more. These asset purchases have helped to make their farm business more efficient and profitable.


Upper Left: Ben Saunders, 2012 SIP graduate, used a portion of his SIP funds to purchase signage for his Wabi Sabi Farm. 

Upper Right: Nathan Anderson, 2012 SIP graduate, used his SIP funds to make a farmland loan payment.


Upper Left: Danelle Myer of One Farm near Logan purchased this delivery van when she graduated from SIP in 2014 with her savings and matching funds.

Upper Right: Air, 2014 SIP graduate, used a portion of his SIP funds to purchase materials to make this fence on his farm near Milo.

However, have you thought about the assets that don’t cost money? I visited Aidan Hamilton (2016 SIP) of Aroha Acres a couple months ago and something he said stuck with me. Aidan talked about sharing equipment, work, and farming advice with his neighbor. As a beginning farmer with little to no equipment and limited experience, partnerships like this can be extremely valuable. Aidan commented, “My neighbor is my best asset.” How about that. His best asset doesn’t cost him a dime.

It’s the same thing I hear from most participants of the Savings Incentive Program. Learning from mentors and connecting with other farmers is really the best asset of the program.

Kate Edwards, 2013 SIP graduate: “Susan has been extremely influential in my farming practices and personal life this year. In addition to all of the farming knowledge I have received from Susan this year I feel like I have gained a life mentor and a friend. I am really grateful for PFI matching Susan and I together through the SIP program. I would not have had the experiences I have had with her if it had not been for the PFI connection.”

Danelle Meyer, 2014 SIP graduate: “SIP allowed me to get to know PFI better and engage in/with the organization and its people. It also facilitated relationship building with fellow beginning, seasoned and aspiring farmers through the required events and programs.”

Cait Caughy & Tyler Magnuson, 2015 SIP: “Gene [our SIP mentor] is a great person and loves to push us and help us find new opportunities to make our farm better!”

Carl Glanzman, 2016 SIP:  “Thanks for picking the right mentor! I got thousands of dollars worth of ideas and attitudes from Eric – I cannot thank you enough.”

Upper Left; Air (2014 SIP) with mentors Matt Russell and Pat Standley

Upper Middle: Jarret Horn (2016 SIP) with mentor John Gilbert.

Upper Right: Kate Edwards (2013 SIP) with Dick Schwab and mentor Susan Jutz.

The best thing about fellow farmer relationships is all you have to invest is your time – and your payback will be far greater than 1:1. The benefits of participating in the Savings Incentive Program go far beyond the two years of the program and receiving a savings match. It’s learning from a mentor’s time-tested experience, it’s sharing ideas with other farmers and it’s building life-long relationships with people that want to see you succeed.

So, the Savings Incentive Program is all about those assets, even the ones you can’t buy.

Interested in gaining some assets through SIP? We are accepting applications until October 9!