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Deadline looms for beginning farmer grants

By Staff | Sep 30, 2011

AMES – The deadline is drawing near for a new round of applications to Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Savings Incentive Program. Beginning farmers can apply through Oct. 14 for an opportunity to save money and receive matching funds while learning how to build a profitable farm.

The program matches beginning farmers’ savings dollar for dollar (up to $2,400) upon completing the two-year program.

Applications can be downloaded online from PFI’s website www.practicalfarmers.org, or call (515) 232-5661 to receive a copy in the mail.

Developing the next generation of farmers who use ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture is a top priority for Practical Farmers of Iowa, and the Savings Incentive Program aims to equip these farmers with the tools they need to succeed.

The program works by encouraging beginning farmers to save approximately $100 each month for two years. After two years and completing all program requirements, PFI will match beginning farmers’ savings so that they could have up to $4,800 to put toward a productive farm asset (land, machinery or livestock).

During the two-year period, enrollees will create or fine tune a business plan and participate in programming to help their farm succeed.

A review panel of five PFI members will evaluate and rank applications. Last year 10 farmers were selected to participate in the Savings Incentive Program.

This year, 24 beginning farms will be chosen; an additional 66 farmers will be accepted from 2012 to 2014.

Eligible applicants must be farming now and have farmed for five or fewer years, residents of Iowa or farming in the state, and be members of Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Those not currently members, can join for $35.

Savings Incentive Program enrollees will be required to:

  • Open a separate savings account and make regular Savings Incentive Program deposits to this account.
  • Attend at least four PFI events per year (online, on-farm, or in person).
  • Meet with a farmer mentor three times in the first year.
  • Complete and maintain a business/whole farm plan over two years.
  • Check in quarterly with a member of PFI staff or business plan consultant of their choice to keep on track with goals they have defined.

For additional information about the Savings Incentive Program application process contact PFI Deputy Director Sally Worley at (515) 419-9551 or by email at sally@practicalfarmers.org.

Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call 515.232.5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.

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