Iowa’s one of six states trying to help rookie farmers become veterans through a U.S. Agriculture Department pilot project. Chris Beyerhelm oversees the beginning farmer/rancher program for the Iowa office of the U.S. Farm Service Agency. He says the program is designed to help with the financing so a young or beginning farmer can purchase their first farm. There are some basic qualifications for the program. To be a beginning farmer, you have to have farmed less than ten years and more than three. You can’t own more than 30 percent of the average size farm in their county. Beyerhelm says the program is designed to help new farmers, but it also has advantages for veterans too. He says they see it primarily being used by someone who wants to sell their farm to someone in the family, but they’re worried about that person’s ability to make payments. He says the program basically guarantees the payments for two years. Beyerhelm says it’s important to give new farmers some help. He says it’s just like any other profession, from electricians to bricklayers, they all have apprentice programs. He says if they need the programs to get new people into the industry or the industry will go away. Beyerhelm says anyone who’s interested can contact their local F-S-A office. He says the Iowa program is limited to five farmers. Indiana, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are also in the program.
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