Published Sep 6, 2018

4 Steps to Create a Successful Application for the Savings Incentive Program

By Greg Padget

Are you a beginning farmer setting out to create a successful farm? You probably already know that you need clear goals and passion to make it work. But, without (even with!) keen financial skills and the business know-how, starting a successful farm can be challenging. This is where the Savings Incentive Program can help. The program pairs beginning farmers with experienced farmer mentors; provides targeted learning and peer networking opportunities; offers business planning support and guidance; and gives participants the chance to save money while learning how to build a profitable farm.

We have opened applications for the 2021 class. Are you interested in being part of this class? This program is competitive, so you’ll want to spend time creating a high-quality application. This fall the Savings Incentive Program committee will come together to review submitted applications and select the next class. Below are four tips for you to consider when completing your application.

1. What experience do you bring?

Tell us what you’ve done to prepare yourself to farm. A farmer is constantly learning from season to season and having experience will help you take advantage of the benefits of the program. Have you worked with another farmer or on your family farm? Have you studied agriculture or taken workshops to learn new skills? The clearer a picture you can paint for the committee, the better they will understand what you’ve done to prepare to be a successful participant.

“The process of planning and growing my business would never have gotten done without the help of PFI and the Savings Incentive Program,” says Adam Ledvina, a beginning livestock farmer set to graduated from the program in December 2016. “Having due dates really helps you stay on top of things.”

2. Why are you the right farmer for SIP?

Share with the committee your vision for your farm. The first part of SIP is establishing your two-year goals. Showing the committee that you are ready to set goals and build a plan to accomplish them is important. Do you have a started business plan? This will help you score points in the selection process because it shows you are already thinking through the crucial business planning process. Being a part of SIP will support you in refining this business plan and putting you in front of financial experts who can provide valuable feedback on your plan. Are you dedicated? Many past participants have cited how helpful it was to have deadlines to be pushed to keep planning on their schedule. Being a part of the SIP class means you need to take the time to complete all required work by the due dates. Just like making a payment on your bank note, you need to be responsible and timely.

3. Are you eligible for SIP?

Have you been farming on your own for five or fewer years, or do you have some experience working for a farm business? This includes, but is not limited to: internships, apprenticeships, working as an hourly or salaried employee or working on the family farm.

Do you reside in Iowa or farm in the state (out-of-state residents are eligible if you are farming in Iowa)?

“The matching SIP funds have certainly been helpful, but more helpful has been the chance to see what other operations look like through mentorship and PFI events,” says Tony Thompson, of New Family Farm near Elkhart. ”While I’m still figuring out what I’d like my operation to look like five years from now, I’m a lot more aware of what is realistic and what is less realistic.”

Are you a member of Practical Farmers of Iowa? If not sign up today!

4. Did you check your application for errors?

Grammar, punctuation, spelling, they all matter…the SIP committee wants to see applicants are serious about being in the program, which means turning in a thoughtful and professional-looking application. When you are ready to submit your application, apply here.

What are you waiting for?

Apply for SIP today! If you have any questions please reach out to me at or (515) 232-5661.