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Radcliffe, Iowa, United States;
Program Terms: May Experience
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Homepage: Click to visit
Restrictions: Furman applicants only
Dates / Deadlines:
The application period for this program has not started.
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Faculty-led Language of Instruction: English
Faculty Director or Program Advisor: Glen Halva-Neubauer Areas of Study: Business Administration, Earth and Environmental Studies, Economics, Political Science, Sustainability Science
Prerequisites: No Type of Course Credit: Furman course credit
Credit Hours Per Term: 2 credits Applicable Financial Aid: Study Away Scholarship
Housing: Host Family/ Home Stay, Hotel
Program Description:

Farm Planting

NCE 2014


After many years in which agricultural interest groups crafted agricultural policy with few contenders, grass-roots citizens are advocating for changes in US agriculture policy on environmental, animal welfare, and public health fronts.  The new actors in agricultural policy advocate for sustainable agriculture and argue for policies that favor local, organic foods.   Added to the mix are questions about farm subsidies, ethanol, and crop insurance.  This debate between sustainable and commodity agriculture has put the American farm at the center of a growing political controversy.  Farm brings students to Iowa, the leading corn, soy, egg, and hog producer in the nation.  The state also is home to a strong network of sustainable agriculture groups.  During Farm, students will speak to farmers employing a wide variety of agricultural practices.   If you are concerned about the future of food, there are few places better to learn about it than in Iowa.

Farm Ubben

The program will be based out of Neubauer Family Farms, Radcliffe, Iowa, which is located 30 miles northeast of Ames, the home of Iowa State University, the state’s land-grant institution.  Iowa is the epicenter of commodity agriculture, and getting access to farmers who are willing to speak about the practices of an increasingly maligned industry is not easy.  Professor Halva-Neubauer has access to those people, and over the past two iterations of Farm, has made sure that students have had access to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), ethanol plants, Monsanto lobbyists, and the John Deere plant in Ankeny.  In 2014, efforts will be made to gain entry to an egg facility and a turkey production facility. The state also has a very strong sustainable agriculture tradition, and over the past two years, Halva-Neubauer has developed a network of contacts that showcase those aspects of agriculture policy including Cory Farms of Elkhart, Table Top Farm of Nevada, and Tom and Sharon Ubben, who are small hog producers in the Niman Ranch system (if you eat carnitas at Chipotle, the Ubbens may have been the source for your pork).  In short, if you are going to study agriculture policies, politics, and practices, there are few places more well-suited to that endeavor than the Hawkeye State, and Halva-Neubauer and his family have the connections to open doors to places rarely accessed.

Students in Farm will have the opportunity to plant corn and/or soybeans, learn about precision agriculture, work on an organic farm, shop at a Farmer’s Market, and work in a hog barn, most likely learning to artificially inseminate sows.  All of these activities and experiences are to provide the students with insights into the impact of agriculture practices and to better understand how the current food system operates, its strengths and flaws.  By understanding the variety of agricultural practices employed in Iowa, students can better evaluate for themselves the claims being made in support of or against organic food, local food, animal welfare standards, nutrient management strategies, no-till farming, and crop insurance subsidies.  This course takes students considerably beyond the typical knowledge of these subjects which is a viewing of Food Inc., and reading the collected works of Marion Nestle and Michael Pollan.  They will understand the many sides to an issue such as whether genetically modified food should be labeled. They will be meeting with representatives of commodity groups, such as the Iowa Corn Growers Board and the Iowa Soybean Association.  They also will have an opportunity to interact with a wide variety of people in North Central Iowa involved in forging an alternate food system that focuses on local and organic food.  Finally, there will be opportunities to engage the local community in a discussion of food and farming policy through the viewing and discussion of food documentaries (such as King Corn) with Iowa farmers,


PSC 516 Farm: An introduction to farm policy, agricultural history, and contemporary issues in agricultural policy (nitrogen run-off, impact of global markets, biofuels).  Course is taught on a working farm in north central Iowa.  May Experience ONLY. 2 credits.

Additional information: The course is an engaged learning course in the political science curriculum; students can take the course to meet the department’s EL requirement.  It also broadly fits within the US public policy curriculum in political science, although there are numerous international dimensions to the course (including world food prices, international food aid, and globalization).  Finally, the course is also a complement to the University’s sustainability sciences major and environmental studies interdisciplinary minor.


The audience for Farm 2014 is a broad one.  Students interested in a “different” kind of experience and who are open to adventure will be well served by Farm.  The ideal Farm applicant will be a curious and adventuresome person who enjoys being outdoors and is supremely flexible. The selection process focuses less on major and GPA; what matters more is whether the candidate has the ability to roll with the punches.  All students are welcome, including graduating seniors. Farm is a relatively inexpensive study away offering, so students with limited financial resources may find this study away experience is one that fits within their budget.  The course also targets students interested in sustainability studies, public policy, pre-health sciences, natural sciences, sociology, economics, and business administration, since all of these disciplines contribute to understanding agricultural policy.


Accommodations: Students will be staying at the farm house on the Neubauer family farm or in hotels when field trips take the group too far from Radcliffe to return home in a single day. The house can accommodate six participants.  
Meals: All meals are included.


Farming is not without risk.  Students will be directed to bring the appropriate clothing; other items will be furnished, such as Tyvek suits, dust masks, gloves, hats, goggles, and ear plugs.  Students will receive a farm safety course before being allowed on any tractors or entering any animal production facility. 


Approximately $1,550


Students will have to pay for the cost of appropriate safety shoes, books for the course (probably two in number), and a round-trip airline ticket from their home to Des Moines International Airport.

This program is currently not accepting applications.