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Picking apples
May 25, 2022

On May 19th, 2021, Governor Reynolds signed SF 356 into law establishing the “Iowa Agricultural Tourism Promotion Act.” See Iowa Code § 673A et seq. Agricultural tourism is a growing industry in Iowa. In 2017, Iowa had 350 agri-tourism operations, an increase from 275 in 2012. Because many of the inherent risks of farming cannot be removed, the Act promotes agricultural tourism by limiting the potential liability of agricultural tourism farms in certain circumstances.

May 02, 2022

Colony Pumpkin Patch, a North Liberty based multi-generation, urban farm strives to provide seasonal and family-oriented experiences and is once again being honored by Google with an exclusive invitation to the Google Business Meetup in Washington D.C. from May 4 - 6, 2022.

January 17, 2022

Every farm operation will face transitions at some point, whether it’s a new beginning, an expansion, retirement or farm exit. In order to help farmers prepare for these kinds of transitions, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Beginning Farmer Center at Iowa State are providing a two-day educational event Feb. 10-11 in Ames.

January 17, 2022

Bringing visitors onto the farm can be a great way to educate others about farm life, and it’s a critical part of the agritourism and agritainment industries. However, there are important risk management considerations for those involved with on-farm visitors. In order to help educate farmers about the risks and how to prepare, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering a free, online training that covers the types of concerns these farmers might face. 

December 22, 2021

A podcast designed and produced by the Farm, Food and Enterprise Development program with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has been recognized for its outreach. The Small Farm Sustainability Podcast, which airs each week, was ranked No. 1 in a listing of the “Best 20 Sustainable Agriculture Podcasts” by Feedspot Blog, an online content creator and social media curator.

December 22, 2021

Corn and soybeans may be the dominant crops grown in Iowa, but there is plenty of opportunity for specialty crops, including fruits, according to the newest fruit crop specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Suzanne Slack, assistant professor and fruit crops specialist, plans to help Iowa’s fruit crop growers overcome challenges and increase their chances of success.

December 22, 2021

A pandemic and severe drought challenged fruit and vegetable growers across the state in 2021, but volunteers with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach rose to the occasion. As part of the Growing Together Mini-Grant project, 33 Iowa counties grew 91,772 pounds of fruits and vegetables that were donated to 119 food pantries and distribution sites – equal to more than 275,000 servings

 

December 22, 2021

Specialty crop producers can hone their skills and receive timely updates Feb. 9-10, as the Iowa Specialty Producers Conference returns for the third year, at the FFA Enrichment Center in Ankeny. The two-day event will feature keynote messages by John Kennedy, founder of agritourism.life, along with educational breakout sessions both days.

 

December 22, 2021

Farmers and those employed in the agricultural industry should be mindful of the risks involved with internet security and what they can do to keep themselves and their companies safe. With so much activity being done online, farmers share the same risks as those employed in other industries – sometimes even more so.

October 21, 2021

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host the 2021 Iowa High Tunnel Short Course on Nov. 8 in the Garden Room at Reiman Gardens, located at 1407 S. University Blvd. in Ames. This event is designed to highlight production and management of high tunnel crops along with information on economics and marketing aspects of high tunnel crop production. An update on the status of high tunnel research across the Midwest will be provided.

October 21, 2021

Food processors in Iowa are essential not only to increasing the quantity and diversity of food in their areas, but also in creating employment opportunities for members of their communities. However, to be successful, they must pay attention to food safety, sanitation and preparation. A new online training program from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will help Iowa’s food processors meet these goals.

October 20, 2021

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is offering Choose Iowa Marketing and Promotion grants for Iowa producers. The grant program matches up to $25,000 per project to help farmers, businesses and non-profits increase or diversify their agricultural product offerings.

October 04, 2021

Farmers and ranchers in Iowa can apply for special grants being offered by the North Central Region of Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. The NCR-SARE will host a Farmer Rancher Grant Program webinar on Wednesday, Oct. 6 from 4-5:30 p.m. CDT. This webinar will help guide participants through submitting a grant proposal to NCR-SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant Program. Join Joan Benjamin, NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Program coordinator, to learn how to write a strong proposal and project budget and where to get help. NCR-SARE will record the webinar and make it available on this webpage. 

September 20, 2021

As fall approaches, harvest season means that small farms will begin producing and selling their home-prepared foods. This part of the U.S. food supply chain is known as the cottage food industry and cottage food producers are subject to certain regulations. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offers online training in food safety, food preparation and Iowa regulations designed specifically for cottage food producers.

September 07, 2021

The pandemic provided opportunity for specialty producers in Iowa to expand production and sales. However, managing risk for specialty production is critical to capitalizing on new market opportunities. The Small Farms division of Farm, Food and Enterprise Development of Iowa Sate University Extension sponsored a series of webinars for specialty crop producers in January, February and March 2021. They featured new tools and resources on how to manage risk.

2021 Iowa State Fair Big Pumpkin Contest Winners
August 25, 2021

A super-sized pumpkin tipping the scale at 915 pounds won first place in the 2021 Iowa State Fair Big Pumpkin Contest, judged Friday, Aug. 13. The growers, Don Young and his son-in-law Tommy Rhodes, of Des Moines, received a $1,850 cash award.

August 20, 2021

It’s not really a coincidence that the Produce for Better Health Foundation recently named September as National Fruits and Veggies month in the United States. Summer is filled with colorful fruits and vegetables, from watermelon to melons, tomatoes to greens, and many more. It’s the season to indulge in foods that are tasty and good for you, too.

August 12, 2021

Multiple days of excessive heat can be hard on vegetable crops, especially ones known to be cool-season. Brassicas, lettuce, carrots and spinach are particularly vulnerable to bitterness, wilting, bolting, deformities and coloring that affect the quality of the produce. Warm season crops like tomatoes and peppers are also at risk of poor flowering and pollination, poor nutrient availability, and overall plant stress in the heat which leads to poor growth, yield, and fruit quality issues in the future. While we cannot control the weather there are a few strategies growers can implement to help vegetable crops survive during these long dry summer days.

Site visit
August 09, 2021

Food businesses interested in expanding the processing and retail side of their operation have a new resource published by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The “Scaling Up Specialty Crop Processing Toolkit” provides an overview and case study of the different criteria for food businesses interested in processing specialty crops through small scale value-added processing – such as product development, commercial kitchens, increasing sales and more.

Mom and baby cow
July 29, 2021

Livestock farmers know that reducing the spread of disease and pests among their animals maximizes profitability. Biosecurity includes understanding routes of transmission and taking steps to manage risk at the whole-farm level.

Fruit & Vegetable Week Image
July 29, 2021

Iowa’s commercial horticulture industry contributes $48 million to the state’s economy each year and provides fresh fruits and vegetables to Iowa consumers. Gov. Kim Reynolds recognized the value of this segment of agriculture by designating July 26-30, 2021, as Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Week.

September 22, 2020

Publications and webinars to enhance your agritourism business. 

Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Week Graphic
June 11, 2020

Iowa’s commercial horticulture industry contributes $48 million to the state’s economy each year and provides fresh fruits and vegetables to Iowa consumers. Recognizing the value of this segment of agriculture, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has designated June 22-26, 2020, as Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Week.

May 27, 2020

The most recent “Back to Business Iowa” podcast from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach features Cherie Edilson, co-founder and CEO of Shop Where I Live. This Marion, Iowa based company works with chambers of commerce and economic development groups statewide to create online “storefronts” where all of the community’s businesses can sell their products in one spot. This model is surging in popularity with COVID-19 pandemic-related closures and social distancing requirements.

May 19, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, businesses across the state are trying new and innovative strategies to remain open and continue to serve Iowans. Farms and food businesses are also stepping up to meet the demand for local food products. Many farmers markets are moving to online sales and virtual options to continue to support customers and vendors in this trying time.

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