Fairfield Ledger
http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1190297

Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 1, 2014

This is Iowa, after all

By Tracy Diehl | May 30, 2014

To the editor:

Iowa! This is Iowa!

More than 90 percent of Iowa’s land is used for agriculture and that’s because our state has some of the richest and most productive soils in the world. It’s why our state leads the nation in corn and soybean production as well as hog and egg production.

While some of our farming methods may have changed over the years, did you know that 98 percent of Iowa farms are still family owned? We believe in farming with integrity for the land, the water and the community. It’s why our state also has more farmland enrolled in CRP (conservation reserve program) than any other state.

These conservation practices remove an estimated 17 million metric tons of carbon annually from the atmosphere. Yes; Iowa farmers feed and fuel the world, while conserving the environment and keeping farming a family operation.

Most farmers dream to one day pass their farming operation on to their own children. Farmers are going to do what is best for the land so they are able to pass the operation on to future generations.

Jefferson County also has much to brag about; our farms cover 197,301 acres which accounts for 71 percent of the land area in Jefferson County. The average farm size in Jefferson County is 255 acres, smaller than the statewide average of 311 acres. Thanks to efficiencies in seeds, technology and equipment, our Jefferson County farmers produced 6,100,802 bushels of corn with a value of $40,406,000 and 2,306,327 bushels of soybeans with a value of $31,193,000. Hog sales in 2012 for Jefferson County were $19,170,000 and cattle sales totaled $8,785,000. The total value of livestock inventory and sales in the county is over $42 million. It’s that success that has helped make Jefferson County the diverse agricultural jewel that so many others can only hope to achieve!

Farming in Jefferson County goes back more than 30-40 years. In 2013 there were 100 Century Farms in Jefferson County. A Century Farm is a farm owned by the same family for over 100 years! While the total number of farmers in the county may be less than 1,000 these farmers and their families have been in the county for decades longer than many of the other residents; residents whose only ‘connection’ to food production is found at the local farmers’ markets or corner grocery store.

As the founders of this community and the drivers of the economic engine which keeps this county thriving, Jefferson County farmers deserve to be treated with respect. They should be able to have the new development and infrastructure to continue farming responsibly, just as their ancestors did, more than 100 years ago.

Currently Jefferson County farmers are trucking grain to Quincy, Illinois, which is 212 miles round trip, to Burlington, which is 110 miles round-trip and to Eddyville, which is 85 miles round trip. Having a location locally will save millions of road miles for our farmers and save on road maintenance over all these miles.

 

– Tracy Diehl, Fairfield

 

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