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PFI seeking mentors beginning farmers program

By Staff | Dec 22, 2014

AMES (PFI) – Practical Farmers of Iowa is seeking experienced farmers as trainers for its Iowa’s Labor4Learning program.

The program, now entering its third year, is an effort to help beginning farmers receive paid, on-the-job training, while helping experienced farmers attract high-quality, motivated farm employees.

Applications will be accepted through Dec. 31. Trainer farms will be selected by a committee of Practical Farmers members.

An application is available at practicalfarmers.org, or request one by calling (515) 232-5661.

Farms of all sizes, enterprises, production practices and regions in Iowa are encouraged to apply.

To be eligible to serve as a trainer, farmers must live or farm in Iowa and be Practical Farmers of Iowa members.

To become a member, visit practicalfarmers.org or call the PFI office at (515) 232-5661.

Erik Sessions, of Patchwork Green Farm in Winneshiek County, served as a trainer and said he found the experience beneficial to his farm as well as his trainee: “It’s a great program, and I would like to continue making use of the Practical Farmers perks with future employees.”

Rick and Stacy Hartmann, who operate Small Potatoes Farm, near Minburn, expressed gratitude for the Labor4Learning Program and its contribution to Iowa agriculture.

“This program is valuable,” Rick Hartmann said. “Its resources are so much better spent than other local foods dollars being funded out there.”

Program attributes include

1). Approved trainer farms will receive a payment of up to $200 per month, not to exceed $1,000 per year. This money pays farmers to spend additional time educating trainees on farm business development training that gives trainees knowledge and business insights beyond the experience they gain performing tasks as a farm laborer.

2). Training time may be flexible, on-the-job or of an informal nature, and should take about one to two hours per week.

3). Trainers will receive support learning about farm labor regulations.

4). Trainees will receive other benefits, including one paid day off to attend PFI events, a special student rate discount to PFI’s annual conference; and special consideration for free lodging at a PFI member’s home during the conference.

PFI will advertise and connect trainees to employment opportunities at trainer farms; hiring decisions are made by the farm trainers.

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