Ag Link for Beginning Farmers

  1. Complete the online application. (Using the online form is the preferred method). If you would prefer, you can print it and e-mail, mail or fax. You can download it paper application (currently unavailable), type your responses in the fields, then print and mail or fax (you can not save the form once completed unless you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat software).
  2. If you are not an Iowa resident, there is a $50 registration fee for beginning farmers. Include a check made out to Iowa State University with your application.
  3. When the Ag Link Coordinator receives your application, he will place the information in our database of those interested in the program.
  4. When a retiring farmer contacts us to help find an interested beginning farmer or farm family, we go to our database to begin the matching process.

Meanwhile, as you wait for an opportunity to open you need to carefully consider the following items:

  • Do you have the knowledge needed for the type of agriculture you want to enter?
  • Do a financial analysis of your assets and resources so you are prepared to talk about what you can contribute to the farm business. Your assets may be mainly in labor and educational skills. Or you may have some of your own machinery. You need to be able to show what you can contribute towards the farm business.
  • Do you have financing available or will you require financial help from the landowner?
  • Are you aware of the Beginning Farmer Loan Program through the Iowa Agricultural Development Authority? You can obtain information on their program by calling 515-281-6444.
  • Are you taking steps to learn about the Beginning Farmer Loan Program by contacting your Farm Service Agency or your local bank?
  • Are you a good communicator? Think about how you will tell a landowner about your goals, your desire to become part of an established farm business. How well do you express yourself in order to communicate with a potential partner in farming?
  • Think about your value system. If you are married, do you and your spouse have a similar value system as it relates to farming versus family issues, and other interests?
  • Have patience and be ready when you receive that important phone call from a retiring farmer who is looking for just the right person to transition his farm business to.

After you receive a call and an invitation to meet with a retiring farmer, you will be ready for the next step - meeting. What happens when you meet?

  • You will talk about your expectations and goals.
  • If your personalities gel and you both feel comfortable, together you will develop a transition plan to use as a guide as you begin working together.
  • We will help you complete a financial analysis of your farming operation in order to determine whether there is enough income for everyone involved to feel secure - that the finances are sufficient to meet expectations.
  • Each of you will exchange references - both personal and financial.
  • Both of you will talk to your own trusted advisors, such as your family, personal accountant, and lawyer, etc. to help you draw up a formal agreement based on your plan.

These are just a few examples of the many issues you need to think about. Entering farming is a big career step, but we're here to help you. Questions? Call Farm On at 1-877-BFC-1999.