Practical Farmers’ winter farminars set
AMES — Practical Farmers of Iowa will tackle farm budgeting, weed resistance, pesticide drift, niche pork, land access and organic potatoes in its free 2014 winter farminar series set from 7-8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays Jan. 14 through March 11.
The interactive webinars were developed to help farmers learn about business and production issues that matter to them from the comfort of their homes.
Any computer with an Internet connection can 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.” Preregistration 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, also are available at the link.
2014 Winter Farminar Line-up
1). Jan. 14 – “Planning Your Diverse Crop and Livestock Farm Business,” with 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.
Wilson grew up on an organic, grass-based dairy in northeast Iowa and moved to a farm near Paullina after marrying Torray, a farmer who grew up on a diverse family farm. They 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 Wilson’s parents, Dan and Lorna, who raise pigs, poultry and organic corn, soybeans, small grains and hay.
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, he works 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,” with Bill Buman and Bob Hartzler. Learn about the latest weed resistance research, and practical strategies to stay a step ahead.
Buman grows corn, soybeans and prairie seed near Harlan. 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.
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,” with Noah Engel and Jason Jones. Learn production techniques to help achieve success growing organic potatoes and carrots at the 1- to 4-acre scale.
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.
Jones and his wife Erin Drinnin live in Des Moines. Jones 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,” with Ethan Book, Kate Edwards and 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 to get started and learn about new growth opportunities in niche pork production.
Beginning livestock farmers Book and his wife Becca bought a 40-acre farm in the rolling hills of Marion County near Knoxville, 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.
Edwards is a beginning farmer in her fourth year of farming. She operates Wild Woods Farm near Solon. Her primary market is a vegetable CSA with more than 100 members. A participant in Practical Farmers’ Savings Incentive Program, Edwards 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.
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. Kramer lives near Algona where he works for Niman Ranch as regional field agent and helps recruit more farmers to its production and marketing system. He 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,” with Rob Faux. Learn how an organic vegetable and livestock farm has responded and continues responding to pesticide drift.
Since 2004, Faux and his wife Tammy have raised fruits, vegetables and poultry at Genuine Faux Farm near Tripoli. 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). March 4 — “Budgeting for Success: Adding a New Generation to a Row-Crop and Livestock Farm,” with Erwin Johnson and Wendy Johnson. 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.
Johnson and his daughter and farm business partner, Wendy, operate Center View Farms Co., a crop and livestock farm near Charles City 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, the Johnsons 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.
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. She 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,” with 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. Dave Schmidt 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.
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.