Join Start to Farm, a Network for New Farmers

Learning groups initiated across Iowa support new farmers

August 18, 2016, 1:53 pm | Margaret Smith, Patrick Gunn

Start to FarmAMES, Iowa – The Start to Farm: New Farmer Learning Network, organized by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is a statewide program designed to provide education and support for beginning and early-career agricultural producers. Start to Farm groups will meet several times throughout the year. Based on priorities and topics determined by each group they will discuss production techniques, ways to grow and improve business practices, and farm management strategies.
Multiple groups will be organized throughout the state, with beginning farmers able to join a group that will be most beneficial to them through either a focus on farm enterprises or geography. Group members will participate in a wide variety of activities, including touring successful farming operations. They also will become part of a community of Iowa beginning farmers.

“Our goal is to provide an open atmosphere for discussion, sharing of ideas and learning about resources for producers who are in their first 10-12 years of farming,” said Patrick Gunn, assistant professor in animal science and extension beef cow-calf specialist. “Each group will have its own focus depending on the needs of its members.”

Registration for the program is requested, but there is no participation fee. Start to Farm groups will be organized across the state. Contact an ISU Extension and Outreach county office for information about a local Start to Farm group and to register for upcoming Start to Farm: New Farmer Learning Network meetings.

Group locations and assigned extension specialists

Start to Farm groups will be facilitated by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialists. Specialists and their topic area are listed by location.

Eastern Iowa
Group 3: Winneshiek County – Jenn Bentley, Dairy;, 563-382-2949
Group 5: Fayette County – Mark Storlie, Swine;, 563-425-3331
Group 6: Dubuque County – Larry Tranel, Dairy;, 563-425-3331
Group 9: Benton County – Denise Schwab, Beef;, 319-721-9624  
Group 11: Iowa County – Patrick O’Malley, Commercial Horticulture;, 319-330-0337
Group 14: Mahaska County – Charles Brown, Farm Management;, 641-673-5841
Group 15: Washington County – Tom Miller, Swine;, 319-931-3781
Group 17: Wapello County – Colin Johnson, Beef/Swine;, 515-291-9287

Central Iowa
Group 2: Hancock County – Russ Euken, Beef/Swine;, 641-923-2856
Group 8: Story County – Hugo Ramirez, Dairy;, 515-294-5517
Group 10: Dallas County – Joe Hannan, Commercial Horticulture;, 515-993-4281
Group 13: Marion County – Patrick Wall, Beef;, 515-450-7665
Group 16: Lucas County – Joe Sellers, Beef;, 641-203-1270

Map of Start to FarmWestern Iowa
Group 1: Sioux County – Beth Doran, Beef;, 712-395-0280
Group 4: Cherokee County – David Stender, Swine;, 712-261-0225
Group 7: Carroll County – Shane Ellis, Farm Management;, 515-520-0601
Group 12: Cass County – Christopher Clark, Beef;, 712-250-0070
Group 18: Page County – Tim Eggers, Farm Management;, 712-542-5171

ISU Extension and Outreach specialists will deliver information on topics that include basic livestock, grain and horticultural crop farming practices, land access strategies, financial and risk management training and diversification.

The groups are funded by an ISU Extension and Outreach grant through the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. For more information, visit the ISU Extension and Outreach Start to Farm website.

About the Authors: