Are you a beginning farmer who could benefit from a personal farm mentor, business planning guidance, help saving money for your farm, targeted learning opportunities, and access to a supportive network of experienced farmers?
If so, apply for the Practical Farmers of Iowa 2013-2014 Savings Incentive Program, a two-year program that pairs beginning farmers with experienced mentors, encourages financial discipline, and offers the chance to receive matching funds while learning how to build a profitable farm. The program is open to farms of all enterprises, sizes, production methods and marketing practices.
Up to 25 beginning farmers will be admitted in this third round of programming, which seeks to support the next generation of Iowa farmers. Applications are due by Oct. 12. To apply online, visit www.practicalfarmers.org and click on the Savings Incentive Program application links on the homepage, or call the PFI office at 515.232.5661 to request a copy through the mail.
The Savings Incentive Program works by encouraging enrollees to save up to $100 per month for two years. After 24 months and completion of all program requirements, participants will earn a dollar-for-dollar match on money saved up to $2,400, for a possible $4,800 to use towards the purchase of a productive farm asset.
Requirements: As part of the program, participants will be paired with a mentor, with whom they must meet at least three times in the first year. Participants must also open and make regular deposits to a separate savings account with Practical Farmers' partner for the program, Lincoln Savings Bank; attend at least four Practical Farmers of Iowa events per year (online, on-farm or in person); create or fine-tune a business plan; and check in quarterly with PFI's Savings Incentive Program coordinator to keep on track with defined goals.
"The Savings Incentive Program has definitely pushed me in the direction of farming," says Jordan Scheibel, a 2012 enrollee who grows produce and herbs on land supplied by Andrew and Melissa Dunham, Practical Farmers of Iowa members and owners of Grinnell Heritage Farm. "When I applied, I was on the fence about how committed I was to farming. Getting accepted made my commitment public."
Scheibel adds that entering the program made him feel like he was "now on the hook" to follow through on building his farm business. "It was the necessary kick I needed to solidify my intentions and realize that farming was possible, and that I had the support I needed to be successful at it. This program has clearly made a difference in my life and my ability to move forward with my farm."
Eligibility: To be eligible for the Savings Incentive Program, applicants must be farming now and have farmed for five or fewer years; reside in Iowa or farm in the state; and be members of Practical Farmers of Iowa. A review panel of Practical Farmers of Iowa members will evaluate and rank applications.