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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Practical Farmers of Iowa gets noticed with ‘Don’t Farm Naked’ billboards in Minnesota
Sustainable farming network, started in 1985, will have film at Cedar Rapids film fest
Practical Farmers of Iowa cost-share programs
Small grains: Farmers who grow small grains, including barley, oats, rye, triticale and wheat, may earn up to $20 per acre for growing a small grain with a legume cover crop.
Earn an additional $20 per acre for reducing nitrogen on corn that follows your small grain in rotation.
Fall cover crops: You can receive $10 per acre on up to 200 acres or 10 percent of your farmed acres (whichever is larger) and $5 per acre on everything above that. There are no requirements on the species or seeding method used.
Farmers who receive cost-share from Practical Farmers still can seek assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
For more information, check out PFI’s website at https://practicalfarmers.org/small-grains-cost-share/
If you’ve driven through Austin or Rochester, in Minnesota, you might have noticed billboards with a pair of bare legs and the phrase “Don’t Farm Naked.”
Another eye-catching detail is the billboard promoting offseason cover crops was co-sponsored by Practical Farmers of Iowa.
“We are trying to recruit farmers from Midwest states to get them enrolled in cost share,” Practical Farmers of Iowa Executive Director Sally Worley said, referring to a program that helps farmers pay for the costs of growing cover crops or small grains.
The group, founded in 1985, has maintained a strong network of producers who want to farm sustainably. When farmers sign onto the cost-share programs, they not only get financial aid and technical support, but they can connect with the Practical Farmers network for helpful tips and camaraderie, Worley said.
“We are offering something that is unique,” she said. “Our network is a really big part of the ‘magic sauce’ of our operation.”
More than 1,300 farmers from eight states — Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri — participated in Practical Farmers cover crop program in 2022, growing more than 300,000 acres of cover crops, according to the organization’s annual report.
Cover crops are plants such as small grains, legumes, and brassicas planted between cash crop seasons to reduce erosion, filter runoff and create animal habitat. Despite the environmental benefits, cover crops are planted on only about 4 percent of Iowa farmland each year. Practical Farmers wants to see half Iowa’s farmed acres planted in cover crops, Worley said.
One of the hurdles of growing cover crops is the cost to buy seed, pay a contractor to seed the crop, in some cases, and apply herbicide in the spring to kill off the cover crop before corn, soybeans or other commodity crops are planted.
Through partnerships with corporations including PepsiCo, Unilever and ADM, as well as government funding, Practical Farmers paid farmers $3.4 million in 2022 to offset the costs of planting cover crops and small grains, the annual report states.
Practical Farmers of Iowa hosted 258 educational events in 2022 with most of those events featuring farmers telling their stories and sharing advice for sustainable farming.
The organization completed 72 on-farm research trials in 2022, including two at Over the Moon Farm and Flowers in Coggon. This research was on grazing turkeys on cover crops versus farmland and replacing corn with oats in rations for pasture-raised broiler chickens.
Practical Farmers has a few billboards in Iowa, but most are white and have a simple message about the organization. But the Land Stewardship Project, based in Minneapolis, wanted to use Practical Farmers’ “Don’t Farm Naked” slogan on billboards in southern Minnesota, Worley said.
The Minnesota billboards, installed a couple of years ago, do get noticed, she said.
“We have gotten responses from people who tell us they saw it,” Worley said.
Practical Farmers will get more attention in April when its full-length movie, “Livestock on the Land,” will be screened at the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival April 14. The festival is April 14 to 16 at Collins Road Theatres in Marion.
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