Farmers Share Entrepreneurial Lessons at Iowa State Event

October 16th, 2014

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State University Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative hosted their third annual Farmer Entrepreneur Panel at the Jeff and Deb Hansen Agricultural Student Learning Center on Sept. 17. During the panel discussion students asked farmers about the opportunities and challenges of entering the farming industry.

The seven farmer panelists, and Iowa State University alumni, from diverse agriculture operations provided a wealth of information for more than 150 students in attendance.

Panelists included: April Hemmes (’82 animal science), crop and livestock production, Iowa Women in Agriculture; Chris Gaesser (’08 agronomy), crop production, second generation farmer; Randy (’76 industrial administration) and Linda (’77 horticulture, ’80 MS) Naeve, vegetable production, Nature Road Farm; Pete (’58 agricultural business) and Al (’73 agricultural business) Hermanson, crop and turkey production; and Jeff Nelson (’79 farm operations certificate), Barramundi fish production, Iowa’s First.

Hemmes expressed her thoughts on establishing relationships for future land ownership.

“If you plan to speak with land owners about possibly renting or buying their land one day, make sure to have a plan. I would be very impressed if someone came to me with a potential outline in mind for how they foresee themselves taking care of the future of my land. What you can provide us as young individuals are ideas and innovation,” she said.

Students were introduced to new styles of farming and improved production practices. Panelists shared their stories as students asked about potential enhancements for their own family farms. Generational transitioning and production diversity was a popular topic as students look for a way to return to their family farms.

“As the future of our commodity markets look to trend downward, I am constantly searching for new and innovative ways to incorporate myself, as well as my siblings, back into our family farming operation,” said Robert Trumm, a junior in agricultural studies. “The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative Farmer Panel provided me with a great outlet to learn from successful farm operators and ask about production diversity strategies.”

The entire Farmer Entrepreneurial Panel is available on video online at

The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative at Iowa State University was established in 2005. The initiative works to broaden understanding of entrepreneurship among faculty and students of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University by providing educational experiences to develop students' entrepreneurial skills and increase interaction among students, faculty and agricultural entrepreneurs.


Carly Cummings, Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative, 515-294-1802,

Melea Reicks Licht, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, 515-294-8892,