What do farm budgeting, weed resistance, pesticide drift, niche pork, land access and organic potatoes have in common? They are all topics Practical Farmers of Iowa will tackle in its 2014 winter farminar series, a set of free interactive webinars developed to help farmers learn about business and production issues that matter to them from the comfort of their homes.
Winter farminars will take place most Tuesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. CST, from Jan. 14 through March 11, and are free to all. Any computer with an Internet connection may be used to participate. Farminars are led by farmers, and many are presented in a "fish-bowl" format where attendees listen as an experienced farmer answers a beginning farmer's questions. Farminars air live online and allow participants to ask questions in real-time.
To participate: Go to www.practicalfarmers.org/farminar, click the link to connect and sign in as "Guest." Pre-registration is not required, but those who register will receive reminder emails one week and one day in advance. All upcoming and archived farminars, as well as free audio podcasts of past farminars, are also available at this link. "We love Practical Farmers' farminar series and always look forward to the next one," says Ralph Gauer, a farmer and Practical Farmers member based in Silver City, New Mexico. who has been tuning in since January 2011.
First topic of 2014 is "Planning Your Diverse Crop and Livestock Farm Business"
The first farminar of the season – "Planning Your Diverse Crop and Livestock Farm Business" – should interest farmers of all enterprises and experience levels. It will feature beginning farmer Erin Wilson and veteran farm financial planner Al Brudelie, who will discuss the ever-essential farm business plan and demonstrate FINPACK, the financial planning and analysis software designed by The Center for Farm Financial Management in St. Paul, Minn.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Erin runs a 200-head ewe flock, custom-grazes beef cattle and operates an organic dairy with her husband, Torray, near Paullina, Iowa. The couple also farms with Torray's parents, Dan and Lorna, who raise pigs, poultry and organic corn, soybeans, small grains and hay. Al, a former Dean of Management Education with the Minnesota West Community and Technical College, farms corn and soybeans near Lewisville, Minn., and is skilled in using FINPACK.
Practical Farmers of Iowa's 2014 winter farminars are made possible with funding from Ag Ventures Alliance; Grain Millers; John Deere; 226 individual donors to the "100 Days, 100 Beginners" fundraising campaign; the Ceres Foundation; the Clif Bar Family Foundation; and the Cedar Tree Foundation.
Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit the PFI website.
2014 Winter Farminar Line-up
1). Jan. 14 – "Planning Your Diverse Crop and Livestock Farm Business" – Erin Wilson and Al Brudelie
Hear farmers share their experiences creating and using the essential farm business plan, and learn to use FINPACK, software that can help crunch the numbers.
Erin Wilson grew up on an organic, grass-based dairy in northeast Iowa and moved to a farm near Paullina, Iowa, after marrying Torray Wilson, a farmer who grew up on a diverse family farm. Erin and Torray run a flock of 200 ewes with lambs, custom-graze beef cattle and operate a new grass-based organic dairy. They also farm with Torray's parents, Dan and Lorna, who raise pigs, poultry and organic corn, soybeans, small grains and hay.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Al Brudelie farms corn and soybeans in southwestern Minnesota near the town of Lewisville. A former Dean of Management Education with the Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Al enjoys working with other farmers on business planning. He is skilled in the use of FINPACK, the financial planning and analysis software designed by The Center for Farm Financial Management in St. Paul, Minn.
2). Feb. 4 – "Outwitting Weed Resistance on a Cash Grain Farm" – Bill Buman and Bob Hartzler
Resistance is futile…when farmers are armed with weed ecology knowledge, small grains, steel and fresh weed management ideas. Learn about the latest weed resistance research, and practical strategies you can use to stay a step ahead.
Bill Buman grows corn, soybeans and prairie seed near Harlan, Iowa. He has been monitoring resistant weeds in his fields for several years and has begun a small trial of wheat to extend his rotation as another method to help manage weed populations.
Bob Hartzer, extension weed specialist and agronomy professor at Iowa State University, promotes the adoption of integrated weed management programs for corn and soybeans. He shares his research with the public at outreach events and via the ISU Weed Science webpage.
3). Feb. 11 – "Growing Better Potatoes and Carrots on a Few Acres" – Noah Engel and Jason Jones
Learn production techniques to help you achieve success growing organic potatoes and carrots at the 1- to 4-acre scale.
Noah Engel grew up on a 120 head organic dairy farm in southwest Wisconsin. When he was 9, he and his older brother, Josh, started growing potatoes for fresh market sales. Now he runs Driftless Organics, a 115-acre vegetable, fruit and small grain farm with the help of Josh and business partner Mike Lind.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Jason Jones and his wife, Erin Drinnin, live in Des Moines. Jason has worked for 10 years on three different fruit and vegetable farms. He currently runs his own business, Wilted Leaf Farm, in central Iowa and aspires to someday grow up to 50 acres of vegetables on his farm.
4). Feb. 18 – "Making Niche Pork Work for You at Any Scale" – Ethan Book, Kate Edwards & Philip Kramer
Iowa farmers have fattened hogs on abundant grain from their farms for generations, and opportunities abound for direct-to-consumer and wholesale niche pork. Hear how other farmers have made niche pork work for them, explore how you can get started and learn about new growth opportunities in niche pork production.
Beginning livestock farmers Ethan and Becca Book bought a 40-acre farm in the rolling hills of Marion County near Knoxville, Iowa, where they started grazing livestock and finishing hogs raised outside. They currently have 12 cow-calf pairs, about 40 hair sheep and poultry. They direct-market about 100 head of Hereford hogs each year to families in central Iowa under their own "Crooked Gap Farm" brand, selling by the cut as well as whole and half animals.
Kate Edwards is a beginning farmer in her fourth year of farming who operates Wild Woods Farm near Solon, Iowa. Her primary market is a vegetable CSA with more than 100 members. A participant in Practical Farmers' Savings Incentive Program, Kate plans to incrementally increase the amount of land in cultivation to serve her expanding customer base. She also wants to add new enterprises to her farm, including hogs, and is curious about the knowledge and planning needed to successfully fit hogs into her existing farm.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Philip Kramer grew up on a northwest Iowa farm that farrow-to-finished about 75 sows and grew 300 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and oats. His family farm was one of the first in Iowa to market with Niman Ranch Pork Division. Phil lives near Algona, Iowa, where he works for Niman Ranch as regional field agent and helps recruit more farmers to its production and marketing system. Phil also has a beginning farm of his own where he raises Hereford hogs, a niche breed developed in Iowa and Nebraska in the 1920s. He currently manages about 15 sows and gilts.
5). Feb. 25 – "Pesticide Drift: Response and Compensation" – Rob Faux
Learn how an organic vegetable and livestock farm has responded (and continues responding) to pesticide drift.
Since 2004, Rob Faux and his wife Tammy have raised fruits, vegetables and poultry at Genuine Faux Farm near Tripoli, Iowa. For years they have dealt with pesticide spray drift to their organic farm from a neighboring crop field. After several reports to IDALS and insurance claims, they are now pursuing litigation.
6). Mar. 4 – "Budgeting for Success: Adding a New Generation to a Row-Crop and Livestock Farm" – Erwin and Wendy Johnson
Want to ensure you stay profitable on a cash grain and livestock farm? Learn when, why and how to do farm budgets from a farm that has been successful for generations – and is in the process of adding a new generation to the family farm business.
Erwin Johnson and his daughter and farm business partner, Wendy, operate Center View Farms Co., a crop and livestock farm near Charles City, Iowa, that has been in the family for four generations. They will share what they do on their farm on an annual, biannual and quarterly basis to ensure they are profitable. In addition to using spreadsheets from ISU Extension's Ag Decision Maker, Erwin and Wendy use FINPACK, the bookkeeping and financial decision-making software. They will discuss how they work with these tools, as well as the cost of production and how they make their marketing plans.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Wendy Johnson grew up near Charles City on the family farm managed by her father Erwin, the third generation to run the farm. In 2010, she returned home to learn the farming trade and continue as the fourth generation to manage the farm. She and her husband, Johnny Rafkin, have taken on responsibilities that include sheep flock management and marketing the farm's hay. Wendy also helps with all the duties related to the corn and soybean enterprises. In addition to learning conventional methods from her father, she is exploring transitioning some acres to organic row crops and using cover crops on all the farm's acres.
7). March 11 – "Land Access – Leases to Support Conservation and Beginning Farmers" – Meg and Dave Schmidt, and Ed Cox
Explore legal issues pertinent to beginning farmers, including farm succession, the transition of land and assets to the next generation, custom grazing legal questions and writing farm leases.
Meg Schmidt started working with beef cattle in 2010 on the family farm near Exira, Iowa. Dave also began about the same time on the other side of the state. Their paths crossed at a Practical Farmers livestock field day. Together, they aim to build their farm – Troublesome Creek Cattle Company – into a profitable, multi-species livestock grazing enterprise. To achieve this they feel they need to know more about some of the legal issues common to many beginning farmers, from farm succession to land lease law, as well as the particular legal concerns of custom grazing leases.
Ed Cox began his fellowship with the Drake Agricultural Law Center in 2010. He is a 2009 graduate of Drake University Law School, with a Certificate in Food and Agricultural Law. His work includes developing landowner resources, such as "Sustainable Farm Lease," and working with beginning and veteran farmers.