Iowa 2021-22 State PDP Plan of Work

Progress report for WNC20-103

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $130,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Iowa State University
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
State Coordinator:
Christa Hartsook
Iowa State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

The State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator provides and supports professional development training and shares SARE resources and information at local, state, regional and national conferences, workshops, and field days.

Iowa specific initiatives are categorized into five basic areas.

Iowa Initiative 1:  Addressing Issues in Soil Health, Water Quality, Energy and Climate

Iowa Initiative 2:  Building Leadership, Communication, and Capacity in Sustainable Agriculture

Iowa Initiative 3: Implementing Diversified Production and Marketing Systems

Iowa Initiative 4: Scaling Up and Strengthening Local Food Systems

Iowa Initiative 5: Strengthening the Success and Sustainability of Beginning Farmers

Project Objectives:

Iowa Initiative 1:  Addressing Issues in Soil Health, Water Quality, Energy and Climate

Education and research on cover crop selection and use to enhance soil quality and crop yield continues to be in the forefront of sustainable agriculture. Farmers learn from other farmers through experience and educational and networking opportunities, so educating farmer mentors on energy and climate change can be an effective tool. Agriculture educators need to be current on water issues and efforts taking place in their regions.                                                                                              

Activities

Funds will be used to sponsor conferences, workshops, and field days support mini-grant projects and programs:

  1. Soil health field days sponsored by soil, water conservation districts, PFI, NRCS and ISU Extension (2021, 2022)
  2. Sponsor annual Iowa Water Quality Conference (2021, 2022)
  3. Sponsor PFI field day and conference (2021, 2022)
  4. Sponsor Soil Health Conference (2021, 2022)
  5. Support proceeding publication for Crop Advantage Series statewide meetings (2021, 2022)

Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships:

  1. 3 educators to attend the Iowa Water Quality Conference (2021, 2022)
  2. 2 educators to attend the Iowa Soil Health Conference (2021, 2022)
  3. 2 educators to attend the Midwest Cover Crop Conference (2022)

Expected Outcomes

  • 50 educators (Extension, NRCS, agriculture instructors) will continue to enhance their knowledge about soil quality and health through the use of cover crops and improved nutrient management
  • 100 farmers will incorporate new knowledge into their production system
  • 10 educators will use this information to answer client questions
  • 15 educators will gain insight into communication techniques that motivate action among new, young farmers
  • 50 farmers and educators will develop new contacts and partners for work
  • 50 educators will increase their understanding of the watersheds and nutrient management research in their regions
  • 150 farmers will learn water and nutrient management skills
  • 25 farmers will incorporate new knowledge into their farming systems
  • 15 educators will use this information to answer client questions
  • 50 educators will learn new production strategies to minimize agricultural inputs and improve nutrient management by attending the Crop Advantage Series meetings
  • 250 farmers will make a change on their farm to improve nutrient management and soil health after attending the Crop Advantage Series meetings

Evaluation

Post-event evaluations indicating change in knowledge and intentions to act on new information will be conducted by sponsored organizations/events. Agriculture educators receiving travel scholarships will complete Iowa SARE PDP post-event evaluation tool 1-6 months after workshops to assess short- and intermediate-term outcomes.

Iowa Initiative 2:  Building Leadership, Communication, and Capacity in Sustainable Agriculture

It has become widely recognized within Iowa’s sustainable agriculture community that interdisciplinary, multi-organizational collaboration and coordination is essential to further the implementation of sustainable practices among diverse audiences in our food and agriculture system. For example, Iowa’s Regional Food Systems Working Group (WFSWG), a network of agriculture Extension educators and their partners, need to collaborate to address issues that strengthen and enhance the local food systems in Iowa. Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and farmer educators need to work together in the careful planning and implementation of management intensive grazing systems in order to maintain profitability in a dynamic market and attract young producers to the industry.

Activities

Funds will be used to support mini-grant projects and programs:

  1. Travel scholarships for agriculture educators to attend the Women, Farming and Agriculture Network Annual Conference (2021, 2022)
  2. Maintain communication with stakeholders through the Iowa SARE website (2019, 2020)

Funds will be used to sponsor events/programs at conferences, field days and special events:

  1. Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference (2019, 2020)
  2. Practical Farmers of Iowa Summer Field Days (2019, 2020)

Expected Outcomes

  • 50 local food advocates and educators/yr will increase their leadership and collaborations within their communities
  • 25 educators and 20 loan officers will learn how federal and state funding support can be used to increase farmers’ production, profitability, and conservation strategies.
  • 45 will develop new contacts and partners for work
  • 45 will conduct client consultations or answer client questions
  • 10 will incorporate ideas and information into new or existing programming
  • 25 educators will increase their knowledge of beginning and transitioning farm management
  • 100 non-traditional farmers will incorporate new, sustainable practices into their agri-businesses
  • 50 educators and farmers/landowners will develop new contacts and partners for work
  • 50 ranchers, Extension staff, RFSWG leaders, meat processors, and institutional buyers will work together to develop a plan to improve relationships between ranchers, processors, and buyers and increase local meat sales through local retailers and institutions.

Evaluation
Post-event evaluations indicating change in knowledge and intentions to act on new information will be conducted. Iowa educators will complete Iowa SARE PDP post-event evaluation tool after workshops or events to assess short- and intermediate-term outcomes.

 

Iowa Initiative 3: Implementing Diversified Production and Marketing Systems

As input costs continue to rise, beef producers are seeking sustainable ways to feed and market their livestock. Iowa soil stewardship educators continue to request advanced training about production practices in certified organic systems, especially regarding how tillage and soil quality can be compatible. A large percentage of Iowa farms are still “small farms.” Sustaining these farms requires diversification and innovative marketing systems. Pest management requires a significant amount of input for fruit and vegetable farmers in terms of equipment, supplies and labor.

Activities

Funds will be used to support mini-grant projects and programs:

  1. Sponsor guest speaker on Integrating cover crops to reduce feeding costs at Driftless Beef Conference (2021, 2022)
  2. Educator training on weed and pest management in horticultural crops workshop (2021, 2022)
  3. Speaker sponsor at Iowa Specialty Producers Conference (2021, 2022)

Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships:

  1. For three educators/year to attend the Iowa Organic Conference and Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (2021, 2022)
  2. Two educators/year to attend the Iowa Specialty Growers Conference (2021, 2022)
  3. Two educators/year to attend the Annual Great Plains Growers’ Conference (2021, 2022)

Expected Outcomes

  • 25 educators will enhance their understanding of production
  • 5 will develop new contacts or partners for work
  • 15 will use new information to answer client questions
  • 150 farmers and agri-businesses will increase their knowledge of sustainable beef production systems
  • 15 educators will increase their understanding of weed and pest management in fruit and vegetable production systems
  • 50 producers will increase their knowledge of weed management strategies in vegetable crops
  • 30 fruit producers will improve their knowledge of insects and diseases to incorporate management strategies with reduced inputs.
  • 4 educators will gain new technical knowledge on best practices in organic production and tillage, use organic agriculture and incorporate organic information into regular programming

Evaluation

Post-event evaluations will be conducted to determine change in knowledge and intentions of participants to act on new information. Iowa educators attending events and receiving travel scholarships will complete Iowa SARE PDP post-event evaluation tool 1- 6 months after workshops to assess short- and intermediate-term outcomes.

 

Iowa Initiative 4: Scaling Up and Strengthening Local Food Systems

An ongoing increase in the demand for local foods in Iowa has prompted questions about how this demand can be met efficiently, profitably, and safely. If Iowa’s agriculture is to consistently provide its citizens with a higher proportion of their diets, obstacles in increasing the production and marketing capacity for local foods through local and regional value chains must be addressed. An increasing number of local food producers are scaling up for larger, wholesale markets and seek to mitigate risks associated with institutional sales. Educators are working to facilitate the aggregation and distribution of local foods through relationships with larger-order buyers, primarily through development of food hubs.

Activities

Funds will be used to support mini-grant projects and programs:

  1. Sponsor activities that promote community-based food systems (2021, 2022)
  2. PDP for educators and regional food systems coordinators through meetings and workshops (2021, 2022)
  3. Support strategic planning for collaboration among ranchers, meat processors, and food services(2021, 2022)

Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships:

  1. Three educators/year to attend a national or regional local foods conference (2021, 2022)

Expected Outcomes

  • 75 educators will be trained in priority local food system development topics
  • 50 educators will use new information to answer client questions and address local issues
  • 20 educators will incorporate new ideas into ongoing programming to support local food systems
  • 50 Food systems leaders and educators in Iowa will increase their knowledge of food hub management
  • 2 educators will gain national exposure and leading expertise in the area of food hub management
  • 20 educators will develop numerous contacts and partners for work

Evaluation

Post-event evaluations will be conducted to determine change in knowledge and intentions to act on new information. Iowa educators will complete Iowa SARE PDP post-event evaluation tool 1 - 6 months after workshops to assess short- and intermediate-term outcomes.

 

Iowa Initiative 5: Strengthening the Success and Sustainability of Beginning Farmers

The North Central SARE Region adopted this regional initiative directed at supporting those working with beginning farmers. Within Iowa, this initiative was adopted by the advisory committee to directly support those already working in this space, including Practical Farmers of Iowa, the Beginning Farmer Center and the peer mentoring networks established by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach located throughout the state.

Activities

Funds will be used to support mini-grant projects and programs:

  1. Sponsor activities that promote beginning farmer networks, peer networks and regional workshops (2021, 2022)
  2. PDP for educators of beginning farmers through meetings and workshops (2021, 2022)

Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships:

  1. Three educators/year to attend a national or regional beginning farmer conference (2021, 2022)

Expected Outcomes

  • 25 educators will be trained in beginning farmer development topics
  • 20 educators will use new information to answer client questions and address local issues
  • 20 educators and farmers will develop new contacts and partners for work

Evaluation

Post-event evaluations will be conducted to determine change in knowledge and intentions to act on new information.

 

Advisors

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Education

Educational approach:
  • Grants 4 Growers presentation given at the 2022 Iowa Specialty Producers Conference (25 in attendance; recorded and shared)

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Addressing Issues in Soil Health, Water Quality, Energy and Climate
Objective:

Through programs and travel scholarships, provide continuing education and resources to agriculture professionals in critical issues surrounding soil health, water quality, energy and climate.

Description:

Education and research on issues such as water quality practices, cover crop selection and use, renewable energy practices and climate mitigation continues to be in the forefront of sustainable agriculture. Farmers learn from other farmers through experience and educational and networking opportunities. Agriculture educators need to be current on sustainable agronomic practices, water issues and efforts taking place in their regions of the state.

Outcomes and impacts:

Events and Activities Related to this Initiative Included:

Three sponsorships in 2021:

  • Iowa Water Conference (virtual - 400 participants)
  • Crop Advantage Series (virtual - Crops TV)
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa (virtual - 600 participants)

Three sponsorships in 2022:

  • Crop Advantage Series
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa (680 participants)

Two mini-grant projects in 2021:

  • Iowa Watershed Academy (80 participants)
  • Natural Resources Conservation Day (85 participants)
Outcomes and impacts:

Learning and action outcomes from mini-grants:

  • Participants in the Natural Resources Conservation Professional Development Day indicated increase knowledge and awareness of natural resource conservation efforts and issues in Iowa.
  • Participants in the Iowa Watershed Academy indicated increased knowledge in all training areas - nutrient loss, nutrient management, conservation practices, outreach methods, project management and more.
Building Leadership, Communication and Capacity in Sustainable Agriculture
Objective:

Through programs, sponsorships, and travel scholarships, provide continuing education and resources to agriculture professionals to build their knowledge, leadership capacity and communication skills in sustainable agriculture.

Description:

Interdisciplinary, multi-organization collaboration and coordination are essential to further the acceptance and implementation of sustainable practices among diverse audiences in our food and agriculture system. Extension, NRCS, formal and farmer educators are leaders who benefit from professional development opportunities to build leadership and communication skills in sustainable agriculture.

Outcomes and impacts:

Events and activities related to this initiative included:

One travel scholarships in 2021 enabled educators to build leadership capacity:

  • One non-profit educator attended the Venture School by the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center

One mini-grant in 2021

  • Training Sustainability Ambassadors to be Effective Outreach Communicators (5 women landowners)
Outcomes and impacts:

Learning outcomes from travel scholarships:

  • 100% said they developed new contacts and partnerships
  • 100% said they would incorporate new information into regular programming
  • 100% said they will deliver new information on this topic

Learning outcomes from mini-grant:

  • 100% said this training was valuable
  • 100% said the training provided new ideas to share my story
Implementing Diversified Production and Marketing Systems
Objective:

Through programs, sponsorships, and travel scholarships, provide continuing education and resources to agriculture professionals to build and strengthen their knowledge in sustainable, diversified production and marketing systems.

Description:

Continuing education for educators and farmers is essential to understanding sustainable diversified production and marketing systems in a variable agriculture economy. Understanding and remaining current in input costs, including soil health and pest management, is necessary for agriculture educators.

Outcomes and impacts:

Events and activities related to this initiative included:

Four educational conferences were sponsored in 2021:

  • Driftless Beef Conference (158 participants)
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day (90 participants)
  • Iowa Organic Conference (140 participants)
 
Scaling and Strengthening Local Food Systems
Objective:

Through programs, sponsorships, and travel scholarships, provide continuing education and resources to agriculture professionals to build and strengthen their knowledge in sustainable local food systems.

Description:

An increase in the demand for local foods in Iowa has prompted questions about how this demand can be met efficiently, profitably, and safely. As an in increasing number of local food producers are considering scaling up for larger markets, educators are working to help them increase production and profitability. Local food system coordinators are boots on the ground to assist with identifying markets and production risks. This requires a high level of both technical knowledge and stakeholder collaboration.

Outcomes and impacts:

Events and activities related to this initiative included:

Three travel scholarships in 2021:

  • One travel scholarship a for local food professional to attend the Power of Food Summit.
  • Two food hub managers attended a virtual Finance Boot Camp by the Food Finance Institute.

In 2021, one conference was sponsored:

  • Iowa Specialty Growers Conference (virtual - 100 participants)

In 2022, one conferences was sponsored:

  • Iowa Specialty Producers Conference (160 participants)
Outcomes and impacts:

Learning outcomes from the travel scholarships:

  • 100% said they developed new contacts and partnerships
  • 100% said they would incorporate new information into regular programming
Strengthening the Success and Sustinability of Beginning Farmers
Objective:

Through programs, sponsorships, and travel scholarships, provide continuing education and resources to agriculture professionals to build and strengthen beginning farmer work.

Description:
In our work with beginning farmers, we recognize that beginning farmers have unique challenges in developing an agricultural business. This work is a proactive approach to address the need to reach out to beginning farmers and future landowners.
Outcomes and impacts:

One conference was sponsored in 2021:

  • Farm Transitions Conference: Entering, Expanding or Exiting the Business (110 participants)
 

Educational & Outreach Activities

22 Consultations
3 Minigrants
2 Published press articles, newsletters
4 Travel Scholarships
6 Webinars / talks / presentations
2 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

140 Extension
40 NRCS
20 Researchers
10 Nonprofit
5 Agency
5 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
120 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

600 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
100 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

2 New working collaborations
120 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
600 Farmers reached through participant's programs

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:
  • Crop Advantage - January 3-31, 2021 - 800 attendees virtually
  • Iowa Specialty Producers Conference - January 20, 2021 - 100 attendees virtually
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference - January 21-22, 2021 -  739 attendees virtually
  • Iowa Water Conference - April 6-8, 2021 - 80 attendees virtually
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day - July 2021 - 50 attendees
  • Natural Resources Professional Development Day - October 20, 2021 - 80 attendees
  • Iowa Organic Conference - November 29, 2021- 120 attendees
100 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
50 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.