The Practical Blog › Single Post
Dawn Anderson of Badger in Webster County, increased her farm business by 4800 bucks in two years. No, not by adding a bunch of male goats to her herd. Thanks to her diligent saving habits and commitment to the Savings Incentive Program, Dawn had SIP funds totaling $4800 and used them to purchase a truck and trailer to haul her goats.
I had the opportunity to visit Dawn at her farm this week. She currently has 26 Boer goats on her 2 acre farm and markets the majority of them as breeding stock through Craigs List and Facebook. While her friendly goats curiously nibbled at my notebook, we discussed how participating in SIP helped encourage her as a farmer.
“My mentors, Cheryl & Mike Hopkins, were top-notch. I think that was the best part of the program – being able to visit my mentor’s farm. I got to see first-hand how well thought-out their farm is and how efficient they are with their goat business.”
Mentor meets consistently ring in as the most popular part of the program among participants. However, Dawn felt the program as a whole propelled her in the right direction as a farmer. “I have learned to so much in two years! I feel like I’m light years ahead of where I would have been on my own.” Besides meeting with a mentor three times, those enrolled in the Savings Incentive Program are also required to:
• attend four PFI events per year of the program
• complete a business plan
• contribute regularly to a SIP savings account
• complete quarterly check-ins with PFI staff to check progress towards farm goals
Once all program requirements are complete, SIP graduates receive a dollar for dollar match on money they have saved during the two years, up to a $2400 match.
For Dawn, fulfilling the PFI event requirement was more than educational, it was fun. Receiving the Field Day Guide was like getting a “wish-book” to pick out events she wanted to attend. Dawn really enjoys the diversity of PFI field days. “No matter what your interest is, someone at PFI is doing it. Everyone is so willing to help.”
Writing the business plan may not have been as exciting as attending PFI events, but well worth the time. “The business plan shows me what I can do and will do instead of hoping. I’m now reaping the benefits of the time and work.” Sections of the business plan are due over a seven month period during the second year of the program. To help stay on top of writing her plan, Dawn left the Building A Sustainable Business book out in plain sight so she had a reminder to keep plugging away at it. Once completed, business plans are vetted by experienced business plan reviewers. Dawn appreciated the reviewer’s comments and said the feedback even offered a couple suggestions to improve her business that she hadn’t really considered before such as artificial insemination.
After Dawn completed all program requirements, she received a 1:1 match on the $2400 she had saved over the course of two years. (Savings and match money are then used to purchase a farm asset.) That’s a total of $4800 which she used to purchase a truck and trailer; much needed equipment to continue her goat business. “SIP definitely made me a better farmer. The program really made me think about how to use my matching funds for the most important purchases for my farm.” She would recommend the program for any beginning farmer who is dedicated and hungry to grow their farm business.
Find out more about PFIs Savings Incentive Program and start to build a strong application today! Application period is open August to October each year.