Iowa Learning Farms recently launched the Emerging Farmers series of resources and guides aimed at supporting new and prospective farmers in developing sustainable business plans for their operations. The program includes sustainable business templates and the Talking with Your Landlord series of informational publications.


“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,” said 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 said 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 CRP are available in addition to the core business model canvas template.


“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,” said Juchems. “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.”


The 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.


“Many landowners prefer to partner with farmers who will preserve and improve their land,” noted Juchems. “This series helps facilitate conversations which will help ensure the farmers and landowners are moving forward together with mutually beneficial practices.”


The Emerging Farmers program is funded in part by grants from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop and deliver tools to help new farmers be successful and operate profitable businesses. For more information about the program, visit www.iowalearningfarms.org/emerging-farmers.


To learn more about Iowa Learning Farms outreach and education programs, please visit us on the web at www.iowalearningfarms.org.