Upcoming Events

Farm Couple Getaways - A Time to Refocus Farm and Family

Saturday, December 14, 2019 - 12:30pm to Friday, March 20, 2020 - 1:40pm
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In response to high levels of both personal and financial farm stress, ISU Extension and Outreach is making available four “Farm Couple Getaways” aimed at farmers wanting to take advantage of activities to improve farm family communication, work on farm or family goal-setting, farm transition or just would like a weekend away to discuss farm and farm family issues. The first “getaway” will be held Saturday and Sunday, December 14-15, 2019 at EWALU Stone Center in Strawberry Point. The dates and locations for the other “getaways” are as follows:

Friday and Saturday, January 31-February 1, 2020 at Hotel Winneshiek in Decorah.                                                    

Friday and Saturday, February 21-February 22, 2020 at Lake Shore Center at Okoboji in Milford.

Thursday and Friday, March 19-20, 2020 at the Best Western Plus Hotel in Dubuque. 

The “getaways” run from 12:30 pm on the first day to 3:15 pm on the second day of the “getaway”. There is no cost to attend the program as food, lodging and other expenses are being paid for by sponsorships. However, there is a $50 per couple deposit to hold each reservation, refundable on the second day of the getaway.

Past “Farm Couple Getaways” have proven to be beneficial to farm couples. They are a very productive and delightful time to discuss items of importance to help farms and families be successful”, says Larry Tranel, ISU Extension Dairy Field Specialist.” Each “getaway” will consist of ten farm couples and our Extension facilitators.  Registration will be on a first come, first serve basis with registrations due two weeks prior to each session. Registration brochures for the various sites can be obtained from Jenn Bentley jbentley@iastate.edu or at the Winneshiek County ISU Extension Office at 563-382-2949; Fred Hall fredhall@iastate.edu or at the Sioux County ISU Extension Office at 712-737-4230; and Larry Tranel tranel@iastate.edu at the Dubuque County ISU Extension Office at 563-583-6496.

The “Farm Couple Getaways” statewide Gold sponsor is the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation with other local sponsors recognized at the local events.

Brochure with registration form:



2020 Iowa Dairy Days

Monday, January 20, 2020 - 9:30am to Thursday, February 6, 2020 - 3:00pm
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Ames, Iowa – Iowa dairy producers will have the opportunity to learn about emerging dairy industry issues during the 2020 Dairy Days events hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialists. The program is scheduled at five eastern Iowa locations between Jan. 20 and Feb. 6.

“Producers have seen low milk prices in the last few years, causing added farm stress. Our goal is to help producers make sound herd management decisions that are backed by current and relevant information,” said Jennifer Bentley, dairy specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “We host these workshops for farmers to network, share ideas, and take back management tips to help improve profit margins.” 

Topics will include ventilation options for freestall barns, dealing with farm stress, dairy market outlook, stress and metabolic responses on dairy cows, and group calf housing and its effects on calf behavior.

“This daylong program offers producers an opportunity to hear up-to-date information. They can also talk with our speakers for answers to their specific situations,” Bentley said.

Dairy Days dates and locations

  • Jan. 20 – Windy Tree Café, 101 East Main St., Riceville
  • Jan. 21 – Iowa’s Dairy Center, 1527 Hwy. 150 South, Calmar
  • Jan. 23 – Civic Center, 200 1st St. NE, Waverly
  • Feb. 4 – Chamber of Commerce, 514 B. Avenue, Kalona
  • Feb. 6 – Neumann’s Bar & Grill, 927 Main St., Holy Cross

Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. and the program will conclude by 2:30 p.m. A $15 registration fee covers the noon meal and costs. Pre-registration is requested by the Friday before each event, to reserve a meal. Online registration is available. Vouchers for the event may be available at your local agri-service providers or veterinarian’s office.

For more information, contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office or Bentley at 563-382-2949. Larry Tranel, also a dairy specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, can be reached at 563-583-6496.



Eye on Employees Webinar Series

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - 12:00pm to Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 1:00pm
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Eye on Employees webinars to address farm labor concerns

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Dairy Team will host a five-session webinar entitled “Eye on Employees,” beginning Wednesday, Feb. 5 from noon to 1:00 p.m.

The webinars will address the main concerns that farm and, more specifically, dairy employers face.

“Extension dairy specialists often get two types of questions concerning labor,” said Fred Hall, Northwest Iowa Dairy Specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “Number one, what is wrong with my hiring process? I can’t get people hired; and number 2, how do I close the ‘revolving door’ of employees coming and going?”

Hall said that this five-part webinar series will take an in-depth look at the questions - how to hire and maintain farm employees.

Each presenter will address a certain topic from noon to 1:00 p.m. on the dates listed below:

  • Feb. 5 - Brett Stanley, special investigator with the Department of Homeland Security, will discuss what information is needed for I-9 Forms and what documentation options there are for immigrant employees to confirm they are legal to work in this country.
  • Feb. 12 - ISU Extension and Outreach Farm Management Specialist Melissa O’Rourke will discuss how to begin the interview conversation and give tips to learn the most about the applicant while not breaking the law.
  • Feb. 19 - ISU Extension and Outreach Dairy Specialist Larry Tranel will discuss how labor and robotic milkers are not an either-or option for producers and explore the most recent research on the economics of automated milking systems.
  • Feb. 26 - ISU Extension and Outreach Dairy Specialist Fred Hall will outline the importance of an employee handbook and give producers ideas on how to create a handbook for their dairy, as well as how to make it a part of their hiring process.
  • March 4 - Melissa O’Rourke will return and outline how employees are often misclassified and the consequences of doing so; plus, other employment pitfalls.

Hall said that at the end of each webinar there will be time allowed for a question and answer session.

There is no registration fee; however, registration is required to receive the link for the program. Register online at https://form.jotform.com/4Hregion1/eye-on-employees. For more information or to register via phone, contact Fred Hall at 712-737-4230.