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PNS Daily Newscast - November 15, 2018 


Lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested on a domestic violence charge. Also on the Thursday rundown: more testimony on the anti-protest bill; plus we will take you to the Dakotas to celebrate American Education Week.

Daily Newscasts

New Iowa Farmers Learn the Ropes from Oldtimers

In 2017, roughly 60 percent of Iowa's farmland was owned by people age 65 and older  with 35 percent of the total farmland owned by people older than 75. (aces.edu)
In 2017, roughly 60 percent of Iowa's farmland was owned by people age 65 and older with 35 percent of the total farmland owned by people older than 75. (aces.edu)
September 11, 2018

DES MOINES, Iowa — Farmers learn fast there's no substitute for experience, and that's why many Iowa farmers are getting help from elders in the business who are willing to share their knowledge.

When Bart VerEllen of Centerville became a farmer in mid-life, he joined a two-year support and matching-funds program offered by Practical Farmers of Iowa designed to help beginning farmers succeed. VerEllen said the mentorship program allowed him to work with experienced farmers who knew the ropes, attend a range of learning events, network with peers and develop a business plan.

"Not only did we go through the process of thinking everything through and putting it down on paper, but we also had input from the program facilitators,” VerEllen said. “And we also had financial professionals look at our business plan."

The Savings Incentive Program launched by Practical Farmers in 2010 has served 138 beginning farmers. It's now accepting applications through October 10 for the next session beginning in January 2019.

Participants in the program can earn a dollar-for-dollar match on money saved that can be used to help purchase a farm asset. VerEllen plans to purchase a bale trailer to improve his operations.

In 2016, VerEllen started Apple Creek Farm, where he raises hair sheep. He said he envisions a farm with a sustainable forage system that will support multiple species.

"Our goal is in the next year or two I can quit my off-farm job completely and be able to just farm full time,” he said. “In addition to the business plan, we've been networking with other beginning farmers and other older, experienced farmers - farmers helping farmers."

The number of younger farmers has decreased since the 2007 Census of Agriculture report. The report showed there were about 387,000 farmers age 44 and younger in 2007. That number had dropped by 43,000 in 2012 - nearly 14 percent.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - IA