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Is your family eligible

By Staff | Mar 1, 2019

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig is encouraging eligible farm owners to apply for the 2019 Century and Heritage Farm Program. The program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms.

It has been 186 years since land that is now the state of Iowa was opened for settlers. The America of the 21st century is far different from the nation presided over by President Andrew Jackson in 1833. There is, however, one constant feature for Iowans – agriculture is at the very heart of economic life in the Hawkeye State.

Consequently, it was a fitting celebration of agriculture and the generations of Iowans who have farmed here that in 1976, as part of the nation’s Bicentennial Celebration the Century Farms Program was established. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation created the recognition program. It had the endorsement of the Iowa American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. Since its inception, more than 19,000 farms have been designated as Century Farms, In 2018, 359 Century Farms were recognized.

The Heritage Farm program recognizes those family farms that have had consecutive ownership within the same family for 150 years or more, and was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program and more than 1,000 farms have been recognized. Last year, 148 Heritage Farms were added to that list.

To be eligible for a Century or Heritage Farm award, a farm must constitue at least 40 acres and have been owned by the same family for 100 or 150 years respectively.

Each year at the Iowa State Fair, which is itself a celebration of Iowa agriculture, there is a ceremony honoring that year’s addtions to the Century Farm and Heritage Farm honor rolls. This year’s event will take place on Thursday, Aug. 15 at the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion.

For those owners who are eligible to seek Century Farm or Heritage Farm status, it is time to prepare their applications, which must be postmarked by June 1.

Applications are available on the Department’s website at www.iowaagriculture.gov by clicking on the Century Farm or Heritage Farm link under “Programs.”

Applications may also be requested from Becky Lorenz, coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program via phone at 515-281-3645, email at Becky.Lorenz@IowaAgriculture.gov or by writing to Century or Heritage Farms Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50319.

“The Century and Heritage Farm Program is one way to recognize the hard work and dedication from these families that is necessary to keep a farm in the same family for 100 or 150 years,” Naig said. “The award ceremony provides a great opportunity to consider all of the challenges and unexpected obstacles each of them would have to overcome during their time on the farm.”

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