The resilience of Iowa farmers was on display last week as Heritage and Century Farm awards were handed out in Maquoketa, in the shadow of COVID-19 cancelations and the derecho wind storm.

The annually distributed awards honor farms that have remained in the same family for 100 or 150 years. In 2020, that includes 238 new Century Farms and 103 new Heritage Farms in Iowa. 

Enduring challenges

“Farm families have endured many challenges over the past century and the current pandemic is yet another challenge these families must overcome,” Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said. “Celebrating with the Century and Heritage Farm families is one thing I look forward to every year. Iowa agriculture is rooted in strength, and we continue to draw on that strength by recognizing a few families who received this honor.”

The awards are usually presented during a ceremony at the Iowa State Fair each summer, but since the fair was postponed due to health concerns, recipients could decide to wait until next year’s fair, have their certificate and plaque mailed to them directly, or attend one of a series of smaller, regional celebrations. 

“We’ll just chalk this event up to another thing we’re doing differently this year,” Naig said. “We’d love to have you all at the fair right now, but you know, 2020.”

The regional award ceremony in Maquoketa last week featured three Century Farms and two Heritage Farms. 

Those honored in Maquoketa  include Century Farm owners Dallas and JoAnn Rekemeyer of Cedar County, Roger E. Quade and Patricia R. Quade of Dubuque County and Patrick J. Walsh and Carol A. Walsh of Dubuque County. Heritage Farm honors were given to John and Mary Kay Egan (dba Niemann Egan Heritage LLC) of Jackson County, and David Puls of Dubuque County.

There was also an awards ceremony last week in Ida Grove to celebrate Century and Heritage Farm awards for Crawford, Ida and Monona counties. 

Backbone of Iowa

“Agriculture and our farm families have long been critical to the vitality of rural communities across the state and the backbone of Iowa’s economy,” said Craig Hill, Iowa Farm Bureau president. “It’s a tremendous honor to co-sponsor the Century and Heritage Farm program recognizing the multi-generational farm families that have persevered countless challenges over 100 or 150 years and kept their farms in the family.”

The full list of Century and Heritage Farm awardees is available at Photos can be accessed on the IDALS Flickr account.