The Iowa Legislature created the Beginning Farmer Center in 1994. The Center is a part of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The idea for a Beginning Farmer Center developed from a series of discussions with Legislators, ISU Extension and Outreach personnel, and others concerning what could be done to encourage new farmers. These discussions led to the conclusion that it was necessary to have a center to focus exclusively on the needs and issues facing beginning farmers. It was also determined that this Center should facilitate the matching of beginning farmers with existing farmers who wanted to transition their farm businesses to the next generation.

The law creating the Center is set out in Chapter 266 of the Code of Iowa and provides, in part, that the Center "shall... assist in facilitating the transition of farming operations from established farmers to beginning farmers". The law also provides that the Center is to develop "models to increase the number of family farming operations in this state". To meet these mandates the Center has funded a variety of programs, publications and research efforts.