Iowa Learning Farms recently launched the Emerging Farmers series of resources and guides aimed at supporting new and prospective farmers. Specifically, these resources help emerging farmers in developing sustainable business plans for their farming operations.
The program includes sustainable business templates and the Talking With Your Landlord series of informational publications. ILF is an information and education program for farmers, offered by Iowa State University.
“We define an emerging farmer as someone with ties to agricultural land who would like to return to the farm as an operator or have a voice in its management,” says Liz Juchems, ILF conservation outreach specialist. “We’ve created tools that will empower these farmers with science- and research-based information to help create a sustainable plan for a new farm or new venture within an existing farm.”
Iowa Learning Farms is a hands-on education and outreach program for Iowa landowners and agricultural producers. Juchems says the goal of this ILF initiative is to help dispel resistance to conservation practices and encourage new farmers to focus on the business of farming with an eye toward maintaining environmental health.
The sustainable business templates provide a framework for farmers to create business plans to use in soliciting financing, engaging with prospective landowners or simply in running a successful farming enterprise. The templates help identify pertinent questions and resources that may be available to support further development of a solid business plan. Specialized template versions for grazing livestock and leveraging Conservation Reserve Program land are available, in addition to the core business model canvas template.
Modify to meet needs
“Each template is simply a starting point, which farmers can modify to their personal needs, yet gives them the foundation to describe how they will capture, create and deliver value with the farm, and ultimately run a profitable business,” Juchems says. “This program is different from others in that it incorporates sustainable conservation-minded approaches to land stewardship, which can give farmers seeking land a competitive advantage when speaking with potential landlords.”
This new ILF program also includes the Speaking With Your Landlord series of conversation guides. These targeted publications provide farmers with key facts related to topics ranging from no-till and edge-of-field conservation practices to financial management of a farm.
Talk to landlords
“Many landowners prefer to partner with farmers who will preserve and improve their land,” Juchems says. “This series helps facilitate conversations, which will help ensure the farmers and landowners are moving forward together with mutually beneficial practices.”