Albright family receives Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award
By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY
LYTTON – Farming isn’t about accolades and awards for Ben Albright and his family, but they do appreciate the many honors that have come their way, including the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award in June.
“We try our best to protect the environment and be good stewards of the land,” said Ben Albright, who raises corn, soybeans and cattle with his family near Lytton. “I sometimes wonder if anyone notices those of us out here doing things the right way. This award validates that, and we’re very grateful to have received it.”
The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take pride in caring for the environment and their livestock, and being good neighbors. It’s named in memory of Gary Wergin, a long-time WHO Radio farm broadcaster who helped create the award.
The Albright family manages a diversified crop operation, where they’ve implemented numerous water quality practices. Ben Albright, his wife, Susan, Ben’s younger brother, Nick, and their father, Alan, use buffer strips, grassed waterways, no-till, settling basins, manure management, nitrogen stabilizers, conservation tillage and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) windbreaks. In addition, they’ve increased the amount of cover crops they grow from 20 acres in 2012 to 320 acres today.
“The members of the Albright family are great conservation leaders,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, who presented the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award to Ben Albright at the Albright farm on June 26. “They realize there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to improving soil health and water quality. They’ve also invested in a variety of practices to determine what works best for their land.”
Focusing on the future
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the award presentation ceremony was limited to the family. Secretary Naig and the Albright family practiced social distancing while receiving the award live on WHO Radio’s The Big Show.
“Between the radio coverage, print articles and social media, I have received a lot of acknowledgements from people around the state,” said Ben Albright, who thanked the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, WHO Radio and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship for the award, along with Darcy Maulsby of Lake City for nominating him for the award. “Whenever there is a positive story about agriculture, that’s a good thing.”
Along with their row-crop operation, the Albright brothers own two cattle feedlots. They purchased their first feedlot in 2006 from their father. The Albright brothers make animal care a priority and use proven manure-management practices to protect the environment. For several years, Ben Albright was involved in a research study about the economics behind grazing cover crops.
“These investments not only help to improve the soil and land now, but they help preserve it for future generations,” Naig said.
Focusing on the future is important to the Albright family, who work hard to give back to the local community. Ben Albright has served as president of the Calhoun County Farm Bureau and is now a voting delegate. He’s also an Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) Ag Leaders Institute graduate, former IFBF Young Farmer Advisory Committee vice-chair, Practical Farmers of Iowa member and Soil Health Conference presenter, Garfield Township clerk, and a Calhoun County Cattlemen board member.
“I admire other recipients of the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award, because I know how hard they work to be good producers and neighbors, all while caring for their land in a responsible way,” Ben Albright said. “These are the same folks who are heavily involved in their communities. It’s not always easy, but it can be done.”
In 2019, Ben and Susan Albright were named National Outstanding Young Farmers (NOYF). NOYF is designed to foster better urban-rural relations, offer networking opportunities for farmers, promote the importance of America’s farming community and celebrate the diversity, productivity and efficiency of today’s agricultural professionals. NOYF winners are evaluated on their land stewardship, modern business practices and community involvement.
“Going forward, I want to continue improving my farming techniques and be a mentor to help farmers keep conservation in mind and still farm profitably,” Ben Albright said.
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