December Beginning Farmer News Update

The winter months tend to be an ideal time for farmers to catch up on office work and dig out that business plan. This is top of mind for the Savings Incentive Program farmers. The 2016 class is wrapping up their business plans while the 2017 class is starting to craft their plans for the coming year. We are very excited to be welcoming the Savings Incentive Class of 2018, which will start their journey in January.
If you haven't heard we have our 2017 Annual Conference coming up on January 20-21 in Ames. To help us better plan room assignments for this conference, we are asking for your feedback on which sessions you're thinking of attending.
Please take our quick survey to choose your top choice for each session round. Haven't made up your mind yet? Don't worry, your answers do not commit you! This information will just be used to help us better match rooms based on anticipated audience size. Need a refresher on the sessions we're offering? View the conference brochure here. Thanks for your input!  
Keep warm and I hope to see you at an upcoming PFI event soon. 

Greg Van Den Berghe
Beginning Farmer Manager
Growing Food and Profit 
Monday, January 9th
First Presbyterian Church
1204 13th St, Dallas Center, IA
Are you growing food or are you interested in growing and eating locally grown food? Then you'll want to attend the Growing Food and Profit (GFP) group in Dallas Center. This peer group has been gathering for over 10 years during the months of January through April. This gathering of peers is a great opportunity  to meet other beginning farmers and experienced farmers alike. The first meeting will be the annual "Swap and Share" night. Farmers will have the opportunity to share new ideas and gather feedback from the group. There will be swapping and sharing of physical things as well as ideas.  Need a special tool for planting or a weather radio for your packing shed? Ask the group!
Contact Linda Nelson for more details:

January 6-8, 2017 
University of WI-Madison campus. 
This intensive, 3-day workshop provides a comprehensive look at what it takes to start and operate a sustainable business growing and selling fresh vegetables. Practical know-how is the cornerstone of the course but past participants have also appreciated hearing the real-life stories of experienced growers and being able to network with peers who share their interest in making a business out of growing and selling fresh produce. Registration for the program costs $325. Enrollment is limited, so early sign-ups are advised. A limited number of scholarships are available to those who qualify. For more information, contact John Hendrickson at (608) 265-3704 or

February 23-25, 2017
La Crosse, WI
If you are looking to attend the MOSES Organic Farming Conference they have some exciting opportunities to reduce your registration. 
10-12 hours of work commitment somewhat flexible around workshops, with conference registration for $50.
Conference Assistant:   A paid position from  Wednesday, Feb. 22  or  Thursday, Feb. 23 through Saturday, Feb. 25 , with more responsibilities and hour commitment, and $200 starting pay, conference registration, and lodging compensation. C.A.s will have some flexibility to attend a workshop or two, but are mostly working during the conference.
Please contact Jennifer Nelson at or Carly Stephenson  at for more information. 

Welcome 2018 Savings Incentive Program Farmers
Practical Farmers of Iowa has selected the seventh class of beginning farmers to enroll in its Savings Incentive Program, developed to help beginners establish viable, sustainable farm businesses. The 11 new participants enrolled in this class bring the total number of beginning farmers served by the program to 127.

Welcome to the 2018 SIP Class
Maren Beard - Decorah
Carmen Black - Solon
Kelly Clime - Dallas Center
Emily Fagan - Decorah
Matt Lansing - Dubuque

Emily and Nathan Paulsen - Elk Horn

Jenny Quiner - Des Moines

Bart VerEllen - Centerville

Matthew and Lori Wiese - Earlham

Tom Wilson and Taylor Williams - Nevada

Jon Yagla - Iowa City

The MOSES publication Organic Broadcaster features an update on a four-year project that is evaluating the production, environmental and economic benefits of growing cash crops with forage crops for grazing. Researchers at Iowa State University, the University of Minnesota, and Rodale Institute are in the second year of the project, comparing two crop rotations. During its third year, research will address harvesting organic row crops and producing crop/livestock budgets.

The Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN) has developed a new set of fact sheets on the basics of meat processing. The four short and easy-to-read fact sheets, available for free download, are titled What is Local Meat Processing?, What are the Rules?, Small Plant Economics and New Plant Checklist. The publications can be used as an educational tool by processors.

The 2017 Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers is now available for purchase or free download from Purdue Extension. The guide is an annual summary of state-specific information on vegetable varieties, fertility, seeding rates, fertilizer rates, weed control, insect control, and disease management. The new edition covers Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Michigan.

Most CSA producers share the same goal: A strong CSA program that is stable and profitable with a member base that feels connected to farm. An excellent Member Agreement can help farmers achieve this goal. By carefully articulating the farm's unique offerings and policies, a CSA member agreement solves problems before they start. This workbook from Farm Commons makes the process of writing such an agreement easy and straightforward.

In This Issue
Upcoming  PFI  Events
Tuesdays 7pm starting January 10th

January 20-21, 2017
Ames, IA

February 10-11, 2017
Strawberry Point, IA

Missed a farminar? Watch them later! 
Practical Farmers of Iowa offers farminars at no cost to participants. These 90-minute, online seminars feature a wide variety of farming topics with farmers as the experts. We record these sessions and make them available for free so you can keep learning year-round.

Are you a beginning farmer looking for farmland to start or expand your operation? Are you a landowner interested in selling or leasing your land to someone who shares your vision for the future? was created by Practical Farmers of Iowa to help maintain family farms and vibrant rural communities by facilitating the transfer of land from one generation to the next.
Contact Us
Practical Farmers of Iowa
600 Fifth Street, Suite 100
Ames, IA 50010