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A century or more of caring for land and livestock

Century Farms, Iowa Farm BureauThis week, 366 families from around the state are being recognized as recipients of the Century Farm designation at the Iowa State Fair. The designation recognizes families who have had a farm in the same family for 100 years or longer.

At the same time, 101 families are being recognized with the Heritage Farm designation, recognizing families who have had a farm in the family for 150 years or longer.

I’ve had to chance over the past few years to visit with several families that have received Century and Heritage Farm awards and reading through the history of these farms. I’m always amazed. Families have encountered numerous challenges in the weather, shifting grain and livestock markets, government regulations, not to mention the transitions that all families go through. Yet, through it all, the families managed to keep their farms going for 100 or even 150 years.

And they haven’t just survived. The families I’ve visited with have made significant progress when it comes to caring for their land and livestock.

Christensen family farm, IowaThis year I had the opportunity to meet with the Christensen family near Scranton in Greene County. They received the Century Farm designation this year.

The family has been raising livestock on the farm since Tinus Christensen started farming there in 1914. Things have changed on the Christensen farm over the decades. The farm uses high-tech equipment and raises their pigs indoors. But the commitment to caring for the land and animals remains as strong as ever.

Pigs have been the center of the Christensen family farm since 1914. In just 40 years, the farm has raised their pigs in a variety of environments and with various feed rations. Today, the Christensens raise pigs in climate-controlled livestock barns on the farm. This keeps the pigs out of hot summer sun and humidity, as well as Iowa’s cold, snowy winters. It also protects the pigs from disease and predators. And it all benefits consumers by producing healthy and affordable pork.

The Christensen family is just one example of farmers in the state of Iowa who have made progress on their farm when it comes to caring for their land and livestock. Each of this year’s recipients of the Century Farm and Heritage Farm designation have their own stories they can tell of the progress they have made on their own farms.

It’s a legacy of generations of caring for the land and livestock that all of Iowa can be proud of.

By Bethany Baratta. Bethany is commodities writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.