Iowa New Farm Family Project in Pocahontas County

Nancy Jenson, CEED, Pocahontas County

Problem:

There is a need to support the dairy industry and to increase the number of dairy producers in Iowa. Thus ISU Extension began a partnership with a business group in Europe to attract dairy producers to relocate in Iowa. 

Response:

In 2005, Pocahontas County became interested in the Iowa New Farm Family project.   A Value Added Ag committee with around 12 members was formed to explore attracting more livestock to the county.  The committee included business owners, farmers, city mayors and clerks, school administration, and Extension staff.  The committee held several committee meetings and several community meetings to share their plans to market our county to livestock producers.  We specifically became involved in the Iowa New Farm Family project and hosted 3 bus tours in the years 2005-2007. Because we already had a large dairy located in one community, people were receptive. That dairy was often a recommended stop by ISU for European dairy producers who traveled to the USA on their own. 

In September, 2006, a dairy family originally from the Netherlands who had just sold their dairy in Denmark, came to visit Rolfe.  We gave them a tour, showed them possible sites available for sale and they seemed very interested.  By January 2007, they returned to Iowa and decided on a site between Rolfe and Plover.  We were thrilled by our success in recruitment, and dug in to do what we could to help them. 

The family of 4 arrived in Fort Dodge, Iowa with only their suitcases, pioneers in 2008.  The couple has 2 children who were 6 and 8 years of age. They stayed in a hotel for a week while they arranged for an apartment in Rolfe.  I arranged a coffee gathering the first week for them to meet some neighbors and people who would be helpful in the community.  The neighbors instantly offered the Koezen family extra furniture, kitchen equipment, child care support.  It was a very caring and important first impression.  When their container arrived 2 months later many neighbors helped them unload it.

The children spoke no English when they arrived, but soon were correcting their parents’ English.  Their apartment was across the street from the swimming pool and the pool manager is the Kindergarten teacher. She posted a word of the day and those at the pool helped the children learn new words… only in small town Iowa.

Construction of their dairy began in the late fall 2007. There were struggles with funding, the Iowa weather, and building in the winter, and calving before the barns were done (due to construction delays).  But the Koezens began milking in Rolfe, Iowa in May 2008.

A support team has been formed to help the Koezen’s with concerns, problems and the open house.  It has made for a smooth transition for them and we act as a liaison.

Impact:

2008

110  Dairy

120  Farm and Business Management

180  Other ANR Programs

Page last updated: September 26, 2008
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu