Honoring region’s ag, farmers
By JOLENE STEVENS
LE MARS – A chance to outline agriculture’s benefits to northwest Iowa and the state, plus awards for ag service, were the highlights of the March 16 Le Mars Ag Luncheon.
Various displays sharing the message of local and area agri-businesses, county FFA and 4-H efforts and those of state and local organizations lined the walls of the Le Mars Convention Center to greet attendees of the 22nd annual luncheon.
Mark Bohner, regional manager of the Iowa Farm Bureau, was among those welcoming a diverse audience arriving for the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce event.
Norm Barker was one of those in attendance.
A now-retired longtime farmer, Barker is credited with numerous awards for his conservation and farm management achievements.
He is also the recipient of the 1987 county Outstanding Service to Agriculture award.
“It’s individuals like these that have made our local community the successful agriculture community it is,” Bohner said. “Credit goes as well to the young FFA members you also see here today with the technology and ability to further strengthen our future agriculture.”
Another was Becca Meerdink, an alumna of the Akron-Westfield FFA, and coordinator of Plymouth County’s Deep Creek Watershed project.
The project is underway through the joint efforts of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Le Mars-based National Resources and Conservation Service.
The Deep Creek project was cited by featured speaker Joel DeJong, an Iowa State University Extension agronomist, as one bringing farmers and communities together, as he addressed the crowd on agriculture’s importance.
“We accomplish a lot in agriculture, which has a huge impact not only in Plymouth County, but in Iowa and nationally,” he said. “This makes it important with fewer people representing agriculture that we be our own ambassador about the good things we do, and that we let others know of the tools we have today to further improve our agriculture in the future.”
“We must maintain our stewardship of agriculture,” he added, “working together not only among ourselves, but with those without, even today, the knowledge of what we do for our environment that’s around us.”
Paul Trombino, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation and featured luncheon speaker, substantiated agriculture’s role within Iowa and the nation as a whole in outlying the state’s highway improvement program, financed by the increased gas tax and federal/state funding of $800 million over a five-year period and the largest in history.
“Included in our efforts are those to provide better and safer transport of our agriculture products on our infrastructure,” Trombino said. “Our planning has also incorporated construction as with bridges and standards to allow for fewer width and weight requirements on some highway systems, therefore giving added efficiency to the transport of agriculture products and related products.”
Capping off the luncheon was the presentation of the 2016 Outstanding Service to Agriculture award. The recipients were Ben and Janelle Johnson, two Ireton-area farmers.
The Johnsons, fifth generation farmers on the family’s Century Farm, in December received the Iowa Farm Bureau Foundation’s Young Farmer Achievement Award in Des Moines.
During the event, awards were given to grade school ag tour hosts, Roger Schroeder (swine), Mark and Lori Loutsch (sheep), Tony and Shirley Schroeder (beef) and Jim and Sharon Tentinger (dairy). The recipient of the Chamber’s $500 ag FFA scholarship was Julie Kessenich, of Le Mars.
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