Our Story: Beginning and Young Livestock Producer Network

February 2015

Iowa livestock producers under age 35 are coming together in groups across the state through the Beginning and Young Livestock Producer Network. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has organized these groups of young Iowans so they can ask questions of each other, listen to educational presentations, talk to more experienced producers, and connect with each other to be successful in agriculture.

Patrick Wall, a beef specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, works with the Beginning and Young Livestock Producer Network in southeast Iowa.

Wall says:

They’re trying to transition back home after college, trying to expand the operation, maybe a new endeavor. … How do we get them back to the family operation? How do we ensure that they’ll be successful when they get started? What resources are available?

So we decided to pursue the BYLPN and get young folks together … connect older producers with the younger producers that are wanting to get started … and help those young folks expand or figure out a way to financially get back into farming or start farming.

Young farmers have a lot of apprehension getting into the business. In recent times we’re dealing with large sums of money, so a lot of risk. We don’t take those decisions very lightly. We like to think that Extension is their number one go-to resource to help them make sure they don’t make mistakes. And once they do get started, when they have hurdles or stumbling blocks, we have some information available to help them get through it.

There will be folks on this tour today that’ll be three-generation family farms. Grandpa will be here, dad will be here, and the son that’s maybe just out of college. The loan officer that they’re going to go through will be on this tour as well. So there’s a lot of different aspects that we’re bringing together today to basically give options to young farmers to get back into the livestock business.

We all know that agriculture is big in this state, and [there’s] probably nothing bigger than making sure this business continues and it continues to be profitable. Agriculture and the rural lifestyle is a really good way to raise a family, it always has been. We hope it will continue that way. It’s good for rural economies, it brings small businesses to the local community, and some of the rural counties really count on agriculture to keep Main Street open.

One of the reasons that I really got involved with the BYLPN right after I got hired was because I am one. I’m a young producer, I have a lot of the same questions that these folks do, so I’m as thirsty for the answer as they are.

It’s crucial that we get these young people started and give them as many tools as we possibly can to keep them in agriculture. If this group of meetings can do that, then we’ve accomplished a whole lot more than just getting a group of young folks together to meet.

Contact Patrick Wall, patwall@iastate.edu, 641-842-2014.