Mike Jackson, a Mahaska County Farm Bureau member and past chair of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) Young Farmer Advisory Committee, was named one of “America’s Best Young Farmers and Ranchers” last month by DTN/Progressive Farmer. 

Jackson and four others from across the country were honored at a ceremony in Chicago in December. The award, now in its 10th year, recognizes farmers under the age of 40 for their innovation, imagination and civic outreach.

“I’m not one for the spotlight,” Jackson said. “But this has given me the chance to talk about some issues I really care about, which is great.”

Those issues include a lot of advocacy and education about agriculture — from hosting farm tours for lawmakers and foreign visitors to connecting by video with classrooms across the country to share farming with kids that may have never left the city.

“It was also neat to talk about some of the things that other people have taught me and to put them on a pedestal as well,” he said.

Jackson noted the important work the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF) does to share modern ag’s positive messages. 

“Mike is passionate about helping people understand agriculture,” said Will Fett, IALF executive director. “He has assisted with the Agriculture in the Classroom activities multiple times through things like the FarmChat program — taking students on virtual field trips when they can’t leave their classroom. Students have learned about drones, row crop production and much more thanks to Mike’s efforts.”

Jackson is a sixth-generation farmer. In addition to row-crop and hog production, he sells seed for Latham Hi-Tech seeds and is a dealer for Iowa Cover Crops.

He is especially passionate about promoting cover crops. Not only is it part of his livelihood, but he has also seen improvements on his own ground from their use.

In fact, he was still working on some custom cover crop planting when he had to leave for Chicago for the award ceremony.

“I parked my tractor and drill to go to Chicago,” he said. “I was back in the tractor planting cover crop seed first thing in the morning after we got back to finish up my custom work.” 

It is this sort of commitment to excellence and hard work that makes Jackson a great recipient of this award, said Joe Murphy, director of communications for the Iowa Soybean Association, who nominated Jackson for the award.

“The Iowa Soybean Association nominated Mike Jackson for his deeply rooted conservation practices, leadership and willingness to adapt to changes in the agricultural landscape,” Murphy said. “Farmers like Mike are one of the many reasons the future is bright for agriculture.”

Jackson and his wife, Mary Beth, are building a foundation for that future with their three children: Arianna, Johnathon and Mack. 

“It’s a definite honor to be able to continue this on for my two boys, or even my daughter, to be the seventh generation of Jackson family farmers,” he said.