The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) has provided $150,000 to support two programs in the Iowa State University (ISU) College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. One encourages budding entrepreneurs to return to rural Iowa and another supports the expansion of swine welfare training.

The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative will receive $100,000 and the animal science department’s applied research in animal care and well-being project will receive $50,000.

Kevin Kimle, director of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, says the funds support students who plan to return to Iowa farms and communities or start businesses. Since its start, more than 200 students have enrolled in the program to develop business plans.

Students who start businesses after completing the course are provided support through the initiative’s Student Incubator Program. The program encourages students to implement business concepts on farms and in rural communities. The program also places student interns with existing entrepreneurs through its summer program.

The $50,000 animal science department funding will go toward study and outreach activities to bring the latest advances in animal welfare to Iowa farms. Anna Butters-Johnson, Iowa State associate professor of animal science, says the programming is based on the needs of Iowa’s swine, poultry, dairy and beef producers.

“The on-farm Extension programs will use sound science relevant to Extension and outreach activities that, in turn, will create a network for improved communications on animal care and welfare practices in the state,” Butters-Johnson says. 

To improve communications with livestock producers, Butters-Johnson hired Larry Sadler to fill a new position beginning in August. Sadler will create web-based communications, including a newsletter and educational materials. The goal is to provide information about the Iowa Swine Welfare School, Iowa State research and Extension and feature livestock and poultry producers who are enhancing animal care and welfare.

“Today’s responsible farmers are always seeking continuous improvement on their farms and that means embracing scientifically-proven animal handling guidance. We are looking forward to all that this new position at ISU can bring and new ways to share that research to a wider audience,” says Craig Hill, president of IFBF and a Milo, IA, livestock farmer.

The funds also support a swine welfare training school for producers throughout Iowa. Sadler also will provide grant-writing support to help launch on-farm training programs for other livestock species.