Experienced farmers needed to serve as trainers in Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Labor4Learning Program

Does your farm seek a highly motivated farm employee? Are you looking for a way to support the next generation of Iowa farmers by sharing your farming knowledge with an aspiring farmer? If so, consider becoming a trainer in Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Labor4Learning program.

The program, now entering its third year, is an effort to help beginning farmers receive paid, on-the-job training while helping experienced farmers attract high-quality, motivated farm employees. Applications will be accepted through December 31. Trainer farms will be selected by a committee of Practical Farmers members. An application is available at http://practicalfarmers.org, or request one by calling 515- 232-5661.

Farms of all sizes, enterprises, production practices and regions in Iowa are encouraged to apply. To be eligible to serve as a trainer, farmers must live or farm in Iowa and be Practical Farmers of Iowa members. To become a member, visit http://practicalfarmers.org or call the PFI office at 515-232-5661.

Erik Sessions of Patchwork Green Farm in Winneshiek County served as a trainer and says he found the experience was beneficial to his farm as well as his trainee. “It’s a great program, and I would like to continue making use of the Practical Farmers perks with future employees,” he said.

Rick and Stacy Hartmann, who operate Small Potatoes Farm near Minburn, expressed gratitude for the Labor4Learning Program and its contribution to the future of Iowa agriculture. “This program is very valuable,” Rick said. “It is resources so much better spent than other local foods dollars being funded out there.”

Approved trainer farms will receive a payment of up to $200 per month, not to exceed $1,000 per year. This money pays farmers to spend additional time educating trainees on farm business development – training that gives trainees knowledge and business insights beyond the experience they gain performing tasks as a farm laborer. Training time may be flexible, on-the-job or of an informal nature, and should take about one to two hours per week. Trainers will also receive support learning about farm labor regulations.

Trainees will receive other benefits, including one paid day off to attend Practical Farmers events, such as field days; a special student rate discount to Practical Farmers’ annual conference; and special consideration for free lodging at a PFI member’s home during the 2015 annual conference. Practical Farmers of Iowa will help advertise and connect trainees to employment opportunities at trainer farms; hiring decisions are made by trainers.