New young farmer peer groups being formed in Iowa

New young farmer peer groups being formed in Iowa

Beginning farmers and young farmers have begun gathering in peer groups in several areas of Iowa the past few years.

Young and beginning farmers face many hurdles in entering the agricultural industry and growing their farm operations. Financial constraints, time limitations and communication skills often complicate the growth and asset transition plans of young farmers and farm families. Beginning farmers are also unique in their organization, family structures and goals. Yet they need education, skills and experiences to help them sustainably and profitably grow their operations.

CULTIVATING YOUNG FARMERS: The Young Farmer Peer Group program is an initiative of ISU Extension to develop a network of beginning and young farmer groups across Iowa to both educate and mentor. Meeting content, tours and scheduling are directed by local participant input.

Iowa State University Extension in Washington County will host a gathering of young farmers at 5:30 p.m. on June 23 at the Southeast Iowa Research Farm located east of Crawfordsville. The meeting is a kick-off event for a new young farmer peer group. A light meal will be provided at 5:30 p.m. followed by presentations on the USDA EQUIP program, financial management and needs of young farmers and available resources.  The meeting is open to all young farmers in southeast Iowa; no charge for the event.

ISU Extension received USDA funding to begin this program

The Young Farmer Peer Group is an initiative of ISU Extension and Outreach to develop a network of beginning and young farmer groups across the state to both educate and mentor. Meeting content, tours and scheduling are directed by local participant input.

ISU Extension recently received funding from a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant. "When new farmers and ranchers start their operations, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program can help them implement tested strategies and new ideas that in turn benefit all of us by reducing food insecurity, growing economic opportunities and building communities," said USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. "Today, we are partnering with organizations that recognize that an investment in our beginning farmers is also an investment in our future.”

Eleven local peer groups formed over the past four years in Iowa

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program was first established by the 2008 Farm Bill and was continued in the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides support to those who have farmed or ranched for less than 10 years. 

ISU Extension livestock and farm management specialists have been active in working with 11 local peer groups over the past four years in Iowa. Peer group participants have enjoyed the concept of the peer learning led by ISU and plan to intensify their activity through the new programs and workshops.

If you would like to attend the June 23 meeting, you are asked to RSVP to Washington County Extension 319-653-4811. Your RSVP is appreciated but not required. The peer group is open to anyone who has farmed 10 years or less and lives anywhere in southeast Iowa.

Field day tour June 23 at ISU Southeast Research farm June 23

The Southeast Research Farm will hold its early summer field day at 1 p.m. on June 23. This event is open to the public and no registration is required.

“Farmers and those who advise farmers about crops will want to attend the annual spring field day for the Iowa State University Southeast Iowa Research Farm near Crawfordsville on June 23 beginning at 1 p.m.,” says Meaghan Anderson, ISU Extension field agronomist. One of the features on the tour will be Antonio Mallarino’s presentation on “Soil Test Interpretations and Recommendations.” Mallarino is an ISU Extension soil fertility specialist.

Also highlighted on the tour will be “Making Cover Crop Decisions” by Stefan Gailans, research and field crops director for Practical Farmers of Iowa; “Foliar Fungicides for Corn and Soybean” by Daren Mueller, ISU Extension plant pathologist; an update on biomass production and research in southeast Iowa by Emily Heaton, ISU Extension agronomist; and a review of the growing season by Myron Rees, farm superintendent.

Certified Crop Advisor continuing education credits available

Certified Crop Advisor continuing education credits will be available for the afternoon tour. Those wishing to obtain additional CCA credits can come at 9 a.m. for a morning training session with a focus on soil and water management. The fee for the morning Certified Crop Advisors session is $50, which includes lunch. Afternoon tours are free and open to the public. Please register by June 20 for the morning CCA session and the noon lunch at or by calling the Johnson County Extension Office at 319-337-2145.

To reach the farm, follow U.S. Highway 218 one and three quarters miles south of Crawfordsville, then 2 miles east on county road G-62, then three quarters mile north.  Signs will be posted to guide you to the event. For more information contact Meaghan Anderson at 319-337-2145 or [email protected].

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