Iowans have long understood the importance of soil and water conservation. Farmers who employ appropriate techniques for cultivating their land help preserve these crucial resources and thereby make a vital contribution to the long-term viability of the Hawkeye State's agricultural economy.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation recognize the importance of conservation to the state's future. Consequently, each year they sponsor a search for a farmer who "has a proven track record of excellence in soil conservation and water quality improvements and is committed to continuing efforts that continuously improve the land and water." The individual identified as deserving special recognition is designated as the Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year. This year the winner of this prestigious honor will be announced July 17 at the Iowa Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners Annual Conference in Altoona. The honoree will receive free use of a John Deere 6E Series utility tractor, for up to 12 months or 200 hours of use.
"Iowa farmers continue to take on the challenge of better protecting their soil and improving water quality," Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said in a call for nominations issued by his department. "This award is an opportunity to highlight and recognize a farmer that has gone above and beyond in their conservation efforts and serves as a model of land stewardship in their community and across the state."
IFBF President echoed Northey's enthusiasm for this award program.
"Leading by example is so important, because everyone has a role to play in protecting our soil and water quality," he said. "Over the years we've proudly honored incredible Iowans who lead by example and have made incredible progress in conservation and their efforts encourage others to step up to the plate. Our role as farmers is to do more than grow food; we must all work towards leaving the land and watershed better for the next generation."
According to the contest's sponsors, a farmer can apply or be nominated for the award by sending a brief letter summarizing the nominee's conservation efforts to the local Soil and Water Conservation District by May 1. Each SDWCD will choose one nomination to advance for consideration for a regional award. The nine regional award winners then compete for the overall award.
Farm News urges readers to help identify worthy candidates for this important award. Since 1952, it has helped build public awareness of the crucial work those who care for Iowa's farmlands and waterways perform.