Farmers who need to change their career can do so with the help of a state program that covers some education fees and helps with job placement.
The Iowa Dislocated Farmer Program, or Farm Focus, helps those forced to give up farming for economic reasons or a natural disaster. It will provide job assistance for 175 out of about 2,200 Iowa farm families, including spouses and farm hands.
Hawkeye Community College, Eastern Iowa Community College, Western Iowa Tech Community College and Matura Action Corp. run Farm Focus.
"Farmers have a lot of skills. They just haven't had to look for other employment before," said Carol Mackintosh, a HCC program coordinator.
Dale Theisen once earned $16 for every two weeks of work on his dairy farm near Bernard. With the program's help, he enrolled at Kirkwood Community College and earned an industrial maintenance degree. Farm Focus also paid a portion of his tuition, books and transportation.
"For me, (the program) was a godsend. ... We (the family) get more time on the weekends together and there's a lot less stress," said Theisen, who now works John Deere's Product Engineering Center.
The program began again in January, after it shut down early last year when funding ran out. Iowa Workforce Development applied for more money and about half of $888,000 in national emergency grant funds was received in January.
"We won't have a problem using the money. We have a waiting list in our area," Mackintosh said.