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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 12, 2017

Small grains cost-share dollars are now available for farmers in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin

Sep 25, 2017

AMES — Practical Farmers of Iowa is seeking to enroll row crop farmers in Iowa, Minnesota or Wisconsin in a small grains cost-share program that runs for up to two years. The program is intended to support conventional farmers or those transitioning to organic who add a year of crops like barley, oats, rye, triticale or wheat followed by a summer cover crop or planted with a legume cover crop like red clover.

Participants are eligible to receive $40 per acre in cost-share on up to 80 acres for conventionally raised small grains or acres that are in transition to organic but not yet certified. Organic small grains are not eligible for the cost-share, nor are acres receiving cost-share for extended rotation practices through the Conservation Stewardship Program or Environmental Quality Incentives Program (Practice 328 or 340).

In 2018, Practical Farmers will cost-share a total of 1,325 acres. Participants will be accepted on a rolling basis until that cap is reached. Any small grains harvested for grain in summer 2018 — including winter small grains crops such as winter wheat or cereal rye, and spring-planted small grains like oats or barley — are eligible for the program.

Cost-share recipients are required to plant a small grains crop and harvest it for grain, and they also commit to planting a summer cover crop. When that summer crop is planted, however, is flexible. Participants may elect to seed a legume like clover or alfalfa at the same time the small-grain crop is planted, or they may opt to plant a diverse cover crop mix after the small-grain harvest.

Participants also agree to fill out two surveys. The first is in August after small-grain harvest, where farmers will enter their small grains production details and cost data. The second survey is in the next calendar year, where they will share their production and cost data for the crop that followed the small-grain in the rotation.

With this data, Practical Farmers of Iowa will assess the environmental effects of the extended rotation system and create partial budgets for various small grains crops based on their destination market. The ultimate goal is to supply farmers with financial data that will help with decision-making and provide companies that buy small grains with an estimate of the environmental benefits created by including small grains in a corn-soybean rotation.

Cost-share participants are also encouraged to join in a monthly shared learning phone call hosted by PFI where fellow farmers or industry representatives discuss some aspect of small grains production or marketing. Half of the call time is reserved for farmers to ask questions and discuss challenges and successes with each other.

Additional education on growing small grains will be available at small grains-focused conferences, organized by Practical Farmers, planned for 2018 and 2019. In August 2017, a small grains conference was held in Ames. Future conferences will be held in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Results of PFI’s analysis of farmer data and announcements about upcoming small grains events will be available at practicalfarmers.org.

Practical Farmers’ small grains cost-share program, shared learning calls and small-grains conferences are made possible by funding from national and state Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grants.

Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Their values include welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in the network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit http://practicalfarmers.org.

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