The Practical Farmers of Iowa have received a $128,800 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services for its beginning farm program. P-F-I spokesperson, Sally Worley, says the program gives new farmers an incentive to save money.

She says one of the requirements is designed to get them to learn how to save money from the income they earn and at the end of the program, they will match the savings so they can buy an asset for their farm. The beginning farmers are asked to save $100 each month for the two-year period of the program and P-F-I will match those dollars for a total of $4,800.

Worley says the second part of the program gives them guidance in developing their farm business. Worley says they are matched with a mentor in year one and they attend four P-F-I events led by other farmers, and by the end of year two they are required to have a business plan that is approved by a review process. Worley says coming up with the business plan could be the toughest part of the program, but she says they will have plenty of help.

She says they are learning about lending and how to create support systems to become successful as they are going through the process of creating their business plan. Worley says they set a goal of raising $250,000 for the program and the grant puts them well about that amount.

Worley says this is the first year of the program and they selected 10 people that started the program in January, and they have selected 25 for this year. Worley says they will continue the program for three years with 100 to 110 farmers in the program. Worley says the farmers involved will include a wide range –from traditional row crop farmers — to those who are starting new farms that raise specialty crops.

For additional information you can call Practical Farmers of Iowa at 515-232-5661 or visit their website at: