Published Sep 24, 2021

Beginning farmers invited to apply to the Savings Incentive Program; applications due Oct. 12

By Tamsyn Jones


Greg Padget | Next Generation Director | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

AMES, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa is now accepting applications for its next class of the Savings Incentive Program, a two-year mentorship and support program for beginning and aspiring farmers. Applications are due by Tuesday, Oct. 12, and must be submitted using the form at

Applications will be evaluated by a committee of PFI members using a scoring system that rewards a noticeable commitment to developing independent farming goals. Up to 12 beginning farmers will be admitted this round, and those enrolled will start in January 2021 and be part of the SIP Class of 2023.

The Savings Incentive Program aims to help beginning farmers succeed at their farm start-ups through mentorship from experienced farmers; business plan support; the chance to save money and receive matching funds; the opportunity to attend a range of learning events; and access to a network of supportive peers.

Since its launch in 2010, the program has helped 162 beginning farmers on their path to establishing a healthy farm business.

How It Works: After 24 months and completion of all program requirements, participants earn a dollar-for-dollar match on money saved up to $2,400, for a possible $4,800 that may be used to help purchase a farm asset. This savings component helps beginning farmers overcome prohibitive start-up costs – though many participants cite the networking, mentorship and business plan work as the most beneficial aspects of the program.

“The Savings Incentive Program has really helped our family farm with the tools and resources needed to build our business,” says Steve Riggins, who operates Riggins Family Farm near Cambridge, Iowa, and graduated with the SIP Class of 2020. “The program kept us accountable, and connected us with progressive and established farmers as mentors who are now friends.”

Core Program Features:

  • Business Planning: During the program, participants create, implement and improve their farm business plan, and practice using it as a decision-making tool. Throughout the process, they receive expert feedback.
  • Network-Building: Those admitted participate in a range of mentoring activities and PFI events to connect with mentors and peers, and learn how to build support networks tailored to their business needs.
  • Capital Investing: Over the course of two years, participants are encouraged to invest up to $2,400 into their farm savings account. Because they receive a dollar-for-dollar match up to $2,400 after completing the program, participants gain valuable skills planning and budgeting for important farm assets.

Eligibility: Applicants must either be farming on their own now and have farmed for five or fewer years; or they must 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.

Applicants must also live or farm in Iowa or bordering counties of adjacent states. Those who both live and farm in a border county are still eligible to apply. Membership in Practical Farmers of Iowa is required – but those who are not members can join at or by calling (515) 232-5661.

For questions about the Savings Incentive Program or application process, contact Greg Padget at or (515) 232-5661.


Practical Farmers of Iowa works to equip farmers to build resilient farms and communities. Our values include: welcoming everyone; farmers leading the exchange of experience and knowledge; curiosity, creativity, collaboration and community; resilient farms now and for future generations; and stewardship of land and resources. To learn more, visit