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, 2011, 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. "Our organization will be accepting applications through Oct. 14, 2011," says Luke Gran, director of PFI's Next Generation program. Applications can be down loaded 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.
How does the Savings Incentive Program work?
The Program works by encouraging beginning farmers to save approximately $100 each month for two years, explains Gran. 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 2012-2014.
Eligible applicants must be: Farming now and have farmed for five or fewer years; residents of Iowa or farming in the state; and members of Practical Farmers of Iowa. If they are not currently members, candidates can join for only $35 at www.practicalfarmers.org or by calling 515-232-5661.
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; and 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.
Make a difference for the future of farming: If you would like to donate to the Savings Incentive Program, please do so online at www.practicalfarmers.org.
If you have questions about the Savings Incentive Program application process or your eligibility, please contact PFI deputy director Sally Worley at 515-419-9551 or email her at [email protected].
Founded in 1985, PFI 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.