Meet Our Members: Practical Farmers of Iowa

posted on Monday, March 7, 2016

Welcome to the sixth entry of Meet Our Members, our series that introduces readers to our member organizations, and shares information about how they are creating a safer, healthier and more sustainable Iowa. Today, we're pleased to feature Practical Farmers of Iowa.

PFI Field Day
Photo provided courtesy of PFI.

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) is a coalition of farmers working to strengthen farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Research is focused on improving agricultural practices, stewardship and results.

The organization’s membership base is diverse, ranging from large conventional farms to small-scale organic farms. Members raise crops including corn, soybeans and grains, as well as fruits, vegetables and livestock, among others.

“PFI values welcoming everyone,” said Sally Worley who became PFI’s executive director on Feb. 1 after serving in several roles since joining the organization in 2007. “PFI strives to be farmer-centric, and strongly believes in farmer-to-farmer information sharing, typically hosting about 150 farmer-led events every year. Signature events include an annual conference, workshops and field days.”

Farmers also decide what research projects to pursue that will best serve their goals. PFI facilitates the research conducted by the farmers by guiding projects to maintain good research, providing compensation for farmers’ time and resources, and hosting events. PFI also helps finalize and interpret the results by providing statistical analysis and writing scientific reports. Farmers around the state are recruited to collaborate on these projects to increase data-points and look for trends.

PFI Field Day
Photo provided courtesy of PFI.

“Farmers really like to learn from other farmers, the research is more genuine,” said Worley. “We can then take their research and work with organizations across the nation to share their findings.”

While results are shared with farmers nationwide, PFI places priority on accountability to its members. At the end of each year, farmers report on their research and what they are doing differently because of their involvement in projects. Ninety-one percent of members have reported that PFI has helped them reach their farm goals, and 70% report improved farm stewardship.

Practical Farmers of Iowa values their membership with Iowa Environmental Council because it is complimentary to PFI’s efforts.

“We have a lot of common members and common goals,” said Worley.” A lot of Practical Farmers’ members support the Council. While Practical Farmers of Iowa advocates for research funding and provides comments on the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, the Council strengthens our voice in legislative decisions.”

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