The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation has announced registration is open for “Acres of Opportunity,” a conference that brings together successful alternative Iowa farmers and business planning experts to inspire those looking to tap niche agriculture markets and diversify their farms. The conference is scheduled for March 12 at The Hotel Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids.
According to the United States Census of Agriculture between 1997 and 2017, farms in Iowa that are 49 acres or smaller increased by 43%. From aquaculture to fresh-cut flowers and everything in between, Iowa offers unique pathways into agriculture for beginning farmers or those interested in diversifying existing family farms.
Conference attendees will learn from local farmers like Deb and Eric Finch who raise meat goats, Keri Byrum who grows hops, Katie Colony with Colony Pumpkin Patch and more. Jared Achen of Chop Local, dubbed the “Etsy of Meat,” will also talk about the resources available to fellow agriculture entrepreneurs.
An idea for a farm cannot be successful without start-up, marketing, financial and legal considerations. Experts will also answer questions on loan programs, taxes, farmers market regulations and business planning.
“In Iowa, we’re seeing a huge interest in niche markets and a consumer demand for those farm-to-table or unique products,” said Amanda Van Steenwyk, IFBF farm business development manager. “By understanding their customers and having a solid business plan, many small farms are finding great success and building upon their business every year. The farming speakers at this conference are a testament to that.”
“Acres of Opportunity” will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is free for Iowa Farm Bureau members and $55 for non-members. For more information on the Acres of Opportunity conference or to register, visit iowafarmbureau.com/acresofopportunity.