DES MOINES, IOWA – On Friday, October 6th and Saturday, October 7th, National Farmers Union (NFU) convened the in-person programming for the Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) in Des Moines, Iowa.
On Friday, October 6th, participants engaged in farm business trainings, starting with a session on credit and business planning with Farm Credit Council’s Gary Matteson, followed by a dialogue on insurance with Farmers Union Midwest Agency’s Jeffrey Downing. Closing out the day, cohort members heard from Iowa State University Extension’s Patrick Hatting on succession planning, and David Holm of the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives on the cooperative business model.
“Education is at the core of our mission at Farmers Union,” said Emma McCormick, NFU Sr. Director of Engagement. “BFI is an amazing opportunity for new and beginning farmers to learn and develop, and something that sets NFU ahead of the curve on developing the next generation.”
For the programming on Saturday, October 7th, BFI participants had the opportunity to explore the Des Moines area with a set of farm tours in the region. The first stop was at the farm of Iowa Farmers Union President Aaron Lehman, who grows organic and conventional row crops in Polk County, Iowa. Following that, BFI attendees toured the Lutheran Services of Iowa Global Greens urban farm in Des Moines, along with the accompanying farmer’s market. Closing the day, participants toured the Boor family farm outside of Osceola – a family hog operation that partners with Niman Ranch.
Established in 2011, BFI was created to help address concerns about the rapidly aging farm population. According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, farmers older than 65 outnumber those younger than 35 by more than six to one, raising serious questions about who will be operating America’s farms in the coming decades.
Over the course of the programming, attendees will participate in four sessions focused on technical training, mentorship, and leadership development.
The farmers selected for the 2023-2024 Beginning Farmer Institute cohort are:
- Anjelica Lusco (KY)
- April Marquart (ND)
- British Griffis (IL)
- Hannah Alden (WI)
- Laurel Smith (CO)
- Lexi Linsenman (MO)
- Mallaidh Mleziva (WI)
- Melissa Mahon Stein (WI)
- Romondo Woods II (MI)
- Slade Sizemore (PA)
- Tammy Copenhaver (MT)
NFU Foundation has continued to grow BFI through the generous support of CHS Foundation, Farm Credit, and Farmers Union Industries Foundation. More information about BFI is available here.
# # #