Long-term Client Writes Letter of Support

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Tim Eggers, Iowa State University Extension Field Agricultural Economist
US Mail 311 East Washington Street, Clarinda, IA 51632
E-mail teggers@iastate.edu Cell 712 303 7781, Fax 712 542 5936
Point of Contact for Adair, Adams, Cass, Decatur, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, Ringgold, Taylor, Union, and Winterset counties.

Your Position

­­­­­Field

POW # and Team

120 Farm and Business Management­­­

ANR Priority(select all that apply)

­­­­­Global Food Security and Hunger­

Title of Success Story

Long-term Client Writes Letter of Support

Continuing Story

 No

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)

601. Economics of Agricultural Production and Farm Management

Desired Changes
Learning
Actions
Conditions

The mission of Annie’s Project is to empower farm women to be better business partners through networks and by managing and organizing critical information.

RELEVANCE
(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

It’s important, because there are women who have been working on the farm for many years and do not have the knowledge to make business decisions. Through education Annie’s Project increases the knowledge of these women. One way is to provide women with a basic understanding of the farm business to enable them to ask questions of their business partners. Another way is that women use the information and teaching tools to make business decisions.

RESPONSE
(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

One letter of support that documented the results from participation in a program delivered in the winter of 2005. The writer is a participant in many extension programs, and she credits the 2005 and 2010 Annie’s Projects in the letter she wrote with stiffening her ”backbone in decision making.”

RESULTS(Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

The writer put this so well I’m reluctant to change it. I think that we can edit it down to the most salient quotes before using it. I have replaced her husband’s name with “my husband.” If we use it for a printed success story, then we can contact her for permission to use her name and his name. This is an excerpt from her letter.

“I always helped my husband in the farming process as well as managing the home as we raised our three children. Some parts that I enjoyed most about farm life were spring time and harvest. In the spring my husband would focus on field preparation and planting which gave me an extended opportunity to tend to the needs of our cow-calf herd. Harvest was always a highlight of the seasons because I was the official ‘go-fer!’ Meaning I was the tractor driver pulling wagon loads of grain from the field to the grain bin, I would run the auger, test the moisture, check the fans, be the tire gauge technician, apply the grease gun, provide the lunch etc. We worked as partners to keep things running smoothly and to get everything under cover. We thrived.

In 2005, I enrolled in an Annie’s Project in Red Oak. I was interested in the course because the course covered record keeping which my husband had been managing independently. He was wishing to ease more of that responsibility to me. The course would also touch on some of the FSA criteria that I had been questioning. Finances and marketing were sensitive areas of decision making where my husband and I had different opinions. We felt that by having an objective class approach, I could learn a lot and we could better relate to the issues involved. Going and meeting with the other women energized me. Having time to ask questions always stimulated my thinking. I loved it! We both believed one should never stop learning.

My husband passed away unexpectedly in 2006. I was suddenly the sole manager and was scared of making costly mistakes. I made some anyway. Tim Eggers invited me to join the steering committee in 2009 for a new Annie’s Project. While attending the meeting, I advised the other ladies to ‘be prepared.’  When I took Annie’s Project in 2005, I wanted to educate myself. After my husband died, Annie’s Project materials became my crutch. I sorted out the information most useful to my farming operation.

When Annie’s Project came around in 2010, I eagerly signed up. It would be a refresher, but more than that, I wanted/needed to learn from a different perspective than when attending the first time. Areas such as; choosing a tenant, whether to cash rent or crop share, how much fertilizer to apply & when, and crop insurance options were areas I had not needed to use before. My husband was making the major farming decisions when I took the course in 2005. With the transition to farming as a widow, I had to evaluate how to scale back financial inputs.  I moved from being a co-owner/operator with 700 acres owned and 350 acres rented to being an inexperienced owner who was leasing 700 acres with a cost-share lease to a tenant. I suddenly had to live off of 50% of the dollars from my own 700 acre farm. These were all new territories to be explored. Decisions such as when to repair and when to sell or replace machinery decisions were and are up to me. The old saying ‘the buck stops here’ really is true and the decisions for the Big Bucks can have long lasting consequences.

I needed and wanted to gain confidence in the management role. It is easy to be swayed by venders who know their product and they want your business even if it is not necessarily a step that enhances my farm. Facts and having reliable reference agency and people that the Annie’s Project compiled for me, has stiffened my backbone in decision making. It is possible to question a lender or an elevator about their policy. When my tenants suggest a change, I can and do ask how will that become an advantage?”

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

Creating and then capitalizing on the empowered role of women is an innovative approach to benefiting beginning farmers and ranchers. Empowered beginning, mid-career and retiring women farmers and ranchers have the knowledge, skills and tools needed to make informed decisions and implement generational transition strategies leading to improved profitability, greater food security, increased rural lifestyle satisfaction, more diverse food, feed, fiber and fuel systems, and enhanced agricultural sustainability.

The letter writer was able to stay on the farm as a result of her education. She is an active member of the community generating income, making local purchases, supporting local community organizations, providing a tenant with access to farmland, and maintaining a social network in her small farming community.

Major Partners or Collaborators

Multiple agri-business professionals spoke at the 2005 program mentioned in the letter. Farm Credit Services of America, Farm Bureau County Committees for Fremont, Mills, Montgomery, Page, and Taylor counties, and the North Central Risk Management Education Center were the financial sponsors for the 2005 Annie’s Project.The writer and her husband were participants in a wide variety of ISUE programs from PPAT to Farm Leasing Arrangements to Winning the Game and Pro Ag Outlook. Multiple county agricultural extension districts and agri-businesses have supported the other programs.

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

College Springs, IA (home farm)
Red Oak, IA (2005 AP)
Clarinda, IA (2010 AP)
Multiple sites in southwest Iowa for other programs

Fiscal Year

Letter written in FY11

Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development emphasis Annie’s Project courses will be developed, piloted, and evaluated in Year 1of the project in the states of: IA, IL, MI, MO, NC, ND, OH, PA, WI and TX; with a roll-out to other states to follow. In Years 2 and 3 of the project, the project team expects courses to be delivered in at least 20 states. However, the new course will be made available to all states with trained Annie’s Project educators (currently 28). The project team will work with them to develop the capacity needed to provide outreach to women farmers and ranchers.

Funding Source

Requesting funds from USDA-NIFA

Keywords

Annie’s Project, Farm Management, Risk Management

 

Page last updated: July 28, 2011
Page maintained by Julie Honeick, jhoneick@iastate.edu