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Century Farms celebrate history

By Staff | Jun 25, 2019

It’s more than 180 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 families have had their farms designated Century Farms.

The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and more than 1,000 farms have been recognized. In 2018, 359 Century Farms and 148 Heritage Farms were recognized.

To be eligible for this recognition a farm must constitute at least 40 acres and have been owned continuously by members of the same family for 100 years or more. The present owner must be related to the person who owned the land a century or 150 years ago.

Each year at the Iowa State Fair, which is itself a celebration of Iowa agriculture, there is a ceremony honoring that year’s additions to the Century Farm honor roll.

“The Century and Heritage Farm Program is one way to recognize the hard work and dedication that is necessary to keep a farm in the same family for 100 or 150 years,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike 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.”

That is a sentiment Farm News heartily endorses. Enjoy the special Century Farm section in this issue.

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