Practical Farmers of Iowa recently began a new website that aims to assist beginning farmers and to also assist landowners, providing an opportunity for them to network online and start conversations about land to rent or purchase. It's free, and you don't have to be a member of PFI to use it.
"In our organization, Practical Farmers of Iowa, we are fortunate to have more than 100 friends of farmers, many of whom own land in Iowa," says Luke Gran, coordinator of PFI's Next Generation program. "Over 40 have called our office over the past two years looking for beginners to farm their land. We are also fortunate to have more than 500 Iowa beginning farmers in our network."
Land is one of their top five needs according to PFI's annual beginning farmer survey, says Gran. Most of these beginners farm some ground now, but need more or different land, while others are looking to start with their first acre.
The goal of this site is to help these groups, network with each other and start a conversation.
This system keeps your identity private until you choose to share it
You must register (FREE with any email address) to the site to view details about each person on the map. "Like other popular websites, we included a secure message system that keeps your identity private until you choose to share it," says Gran. "Each registrant completes a basic profile that identifies the location, amount of land, land type, building improvements and utilities (if any) on the site. Next, the registrant chooses the enterprise, and production practices, and finally, the time horizon and transaction preferences of the user."
He adds, "Our PFI membership is steadfast in their determination to ensure the next generation of Iowa farmers and we plan to analyze the effectiveness of this site in helping beginners access land. At the same time, we appreciate the reality that land isn't the only challenge for beginning farmers. We will be there to answer other challenges with the Savings Incentive Program, Farminars, PFI annual conference sessions, field days, workshops, and more."
A landseeker, PFI member Frank Stevenson says, "The Find A Farmer site is good looking and fairly easy to use, with intuitive functionality." Gran says the initial feedback that he is receiving from users is positive including praise from Stevenson. Says Stevenson, "This is exactly the right tool, at exactly the right time, for exactly the right souls seeking to connect eager starting farmers with equally eager landowners."You can join in the search online today, says Gran. You don't have to be a PFI member. The FREE online registration at www.practicalfarmers.org/findafarmer