Beginning farmers know the substantial initial investment it takes to farm, and those who currently farm are facing a projected 25% cut in their net farm income compared to last year. These situations have prompted interest in niche opportunities that require less land or can complement an existing family farm. To meet this rising interest, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s Acres of Opportunity conference provides a space to learn from and network with farmers who have taken a diversified path.
The conference is slated for March 16 at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa and will cover niche areas such as specialty meats, small grains, flower farming, regenerative grazing and more. Industry experts will also be present to talk about beginning farmer loans, branding opportunities and e-commerce.
Keynoting the event is Sarah Frey, CEO and founder of Frey Farms, the nation’s leading grower, shipper and marketer of fresh fruits and vegetables. Described by New York Times as “America’s Pumpkin Queen,” Frey’s empire began as a simple produce route that expanded into contracts with Wal-Mart following her acquisition of her family’s farm. She now owns farmland in seven states and has her own watermelon juice business, Tsamaa (pronounced sah-mah), which uses up “ugly” watermelons that would otherwise be thrown out at the consumer level. Frey will share the importance of learning from each other’s challenges and drawing on the inspiration all around us.
“One of the most valuable things this conference provides is that inspiration to see what is possible,” says Amanda Van Steenwyk, Iowa Farm Bureau’s farm business development manager. “What seems unattainable today can move toward being less frightening when you can hear from others who have done it, what obstacles they faced and the success they’ve had by taking a leap.”
Registration is free for Farm Bureau members and $60 per person for non-members. Register online by March 3 and view a full agenda at www.iowafarmbureau.com/acres.
About Iowa Farm Bureau
The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is the largest statewide, grassroots farm organization in Iowa, celebrating more than100 years of creating a vibrant future for agriculture, farm families and their communities. For more information, visit www.iowafarmbureau.com.