In this issue
Farm economy: Take positive approach to find solutions
Troubles in the farm economy are felt at Iowa's grass roots - so much so that 150 people from six counties gathered in a Keota church six days before Christmas to gain strength and hope. The gathering was an opportunity to let farmers know that the financial and emotional problems associated with the farm economy touch all pork producers in the area, said Gary Bickmeier, Iowa State University Extension education director for Keokuk County. The meeting gave businesses, neighbors and families a chance to show support and reflect on the problem in a positive way.
"I knew a lot of the people in the room," said State Rep. Sandra Greiner, House District 96. People were tense when they first arrived, but as the evening progressed, "you could see people relaxing. People really opened up and spoke from the heart."
The meeting "opened a lot of people's eyes - not the farmers' eyes, the farmers knew it - but the professional people in town," she added.
"As usual, Extension was there to help," Greiner said. "It seems like Extension always is the group to move forward," to do something to search for solutions.
The search that began on a December night continues. Seventy-nine people came together in a follow-up meeting in January. In Ames, ISU Extension brought together 113 service providers - representing organizations that help farm families and agribusinesses - to plan how they could be part of the solution. Extension and the Iowa Pork Industry Center presented educational ICN programs this winter to more than 1,400 pork producers and others in the pork industry. Extension and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation distributed 100,000 special edition newspapers examining choices available to farm families. Extension's Iowa Concern Hotline, (800) 447-1985, continues answering an increasing number of questions about financial concerns, legal issues and family transitions.
Greiner agreed with one farmer's recommendation during
that first Keota meeting - that people work with others who
try to find solutions to problems, who take a positive