Registration is open for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) “Acres of Opportunity” conference, which brings together business experts and Iowa farmers who have had success marketing alternative products to inspire those looking to tap niche markets and diversify their farms. The conference is scheduled for March 12 at The Hotel Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids.

“In Iowa, we’re seeing a huge interest in niche markets and a consumer demand for those farm-to-table or unique products,” said Amanda Van Steenwyk, IFBF farm business development manager. “By understanding their customer and having a solid business plan, many small farms are finding great success and building upon their business every year. The farming speakers at this conference are a testament to that.” 

From hops to meat goats and everything in between, Iowa offers unique pathways into agriculture for beginning farmers or those interested in diversifying existing family farms. According to the U.S. Census of Agriculture, between 2007 and 2017, farms in Iowa that are 49 acres or smaller increased by nearly 12%.

Conference attendees will learn from local farmers like Deb and Eric Finch, who raise meat goats; Keri Byrum, who grows hops; Katie Colony with Colony Pumpkin Patch; and more. Jared Achen of Chop Local, dubbed the “Etsy of Meat,” will talk about the resources available to fellow agriculture entrepreneurs. 

The conference will also feature information on marketing, financial and legal considerations needed for a successful start-up. Experts will answer questions on loan programs, taxes, farmers market regulations and business planning. 

“Acres of Opportunity” will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is free for Iowa Farm Bureau members and $55 for non-members. For more information on the Acres of Opportunity conference or to register, please visit