State Fair Display Receives International Recognition
The Ohio State Fair, in conjunction with the Ohio Soybean Council, has received an award of distinction in the inaugural Soybean and Environmental Sustainability Awards competition from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) for its soybean education program at the 2012 Fair.
In addition to receiving first place in its attendance division for the “educational event, exhibit or program for fairgoing public – soy use” category, the Ohio State Fair was presented with the coveted Judge’s Choice Award for the entire Soybean and Environmental Sustainability Awards competition, which recognized fairs in four different categories.
Logos: 2 Color EPS
Media Contact: Jennifer Coleman, JColeman@soyohio.org
Kristin Reese lives with her husband and two children on a farm located about 30 miles southeast of Columbus, where they raise horned dorset sheep, chickens, egg layers and rabbits. The Reeses primarily sell meat, wool and eggs directly off their farm.
Both Kristin and her husband Matt grew up on farms and knew they wanted to raise their children in an agricultural environment to instill solid family values and a strong work ethic. “This way of life is incredible. It’s important for my kids to be raised in an agricultural environment to learn how to take care of the land and animals, and contribute in many ways they wouldn’t otherwise.”
Kristin’s passion for agriculture is evident on her farm and in her catering business, Local Flavor Foods, which uses many foods from her own farm, including eggs, poultry, lamb and fresh produce from her garden. Kristin sees Local Flavor Foods as a way to show people the importance of agriculture within their daily lives. “The key message for us is ‘local is great, but bigger is better.’ While we own a small farm, we know that larger farms are going to feed the world,” says Kristin. “Our customer base is a group of people who can afford to spend a little more on their food, but it’s our goal to make sure people understand that the food in the grocery store is also safe and healthy. Those farmers care just as much as we do when it comes to putting healthy, nutritious foods on everyone’s plates.”
Kristin has also adopted many conservation practices on her farm to help things run as smoothly and efficiently as possible while protecting the land. These things include using animal manure as natural fertilizer, implementing rotational grazing and composting food waste to feed the hens. She also grows her own hay to feed the sheep, selling what isn’t used to local horse and dairy farms.
Though Kristin and her family work on a smaller scale, she is quick to point out that no matter the size of the farming operation, every farmer has the consumers’ best interests in mind. “People involved in agriculture farm because they love it. We all have a real connection with what we’re growing. We want to provide a product that is safe, affordable and healthy. What we grow, whether on farms large or small, we know we are feeding our own families and other families too.”
Trent runs Agracola Farms in northwest Ohio, where he works as a contract producer of seed beans and popcorn. He is a third-generation farmer whose grandfather started the farm in the 1940s with vegetable crops such as tomatoes and sugar beets. Trent now works the land with his dad, returning to the farm after receiving his degree in agribusiness and marketing management.
Trent has continued his education out in the fields, where he says the learning process is ongoing. “Like any business, I think we have to grow and adapt, learn to do more with less, make our equipment more productive and efficient, and keep up with technology. There will always be something new.”
Like the majority of his fellow farmers, Trent is very good at what he does, and takes pride in his ability to produce healthy, plentiful crops for so many people. “It’s rewarding to see all your hard work come to fruition and the positive affects it has on people. To think that our products are making a difference in the lives of others, at home and overseas, is very gratifying.”
Along with the gratification Trent gets from farming, he believes it is equally important to practice responsible, ethical agriculture and stewardship. “We try to be very proactive when it comes to conservation practices. A lot of farmers voluntarily implement better practices with or without regulations in place. We want to be stewards of the land, because ultimately the land is what gives back to us.”
As crops remain high in demand and the world continues to grow, agriculture in the U.S. is more important now than ever before, and Ohio farmers like Trent play a big part in making sure quality farming keeps us headed in a positive direction.
John Motter comes from a family with years of farming under their belts. The family’s thick agricultural ties date back through many generations. Today John grows 750 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans on his third-generation farm in northwest Ohio. John’s grandmother started the farm in the 1940s with 60 acres, which he and his father have grown more than tenfold. “The acres that one farmer can handle effectively and efficiently continues to grow and improve, and we will increase our ability to feed people. Farms will get more efficient, and technology will continue to get better,” says John.
When making the decision to grow GMO crops (which stands for genetically modified organism), John considered several things, safety being the most important. “Putting traits in the genetics that keep bugs off cuts down on treatments. That’s better for the environment and the public. Farmers know that the final product is all about the end user and what’s best for them. We want to satisfy the market.” John wants people to know that farmers care first and foremost about creating healthy products that benefit the consumers, the land and the animals.
John is also hopeful that his son or grandsons will eventually take over the farm to ensure the farming operation and tradition remains in the family for generations to come. He bases his farming practices and daily operations on that hope, just as his father did for him. “My father raised me to be a conservation farmer. Dad said, ‘You have to be a steward of the land. It’s your job to leave the land better than you found it.’ Doing things like no-till, installing drainage and filter strips, and grass waterways aren’t optional. There always has to be a balance between what we need to do to preserve nature and what we have to do to feed a growing population.”
Gretchen Mossbarger farms with her dad in Pickaway and Franklin Counties in Ohio on R Farm. They grow field corn and produce soybean and wheat seed for retail sales. She is the third generation in a family of farmers and believes agriculture is in her blood. Her husband, Steve, also comes from a farming background and is currently the manager of Crop Production Services (CPS) in Washington Court House, Ohio. They now live on a piece of property Steve’s grandfather once farmed.
Gretchen recently assumed ownership of R Farm from her father, which means she is responsible for handling production, sales and employees. “I do everything including planting, scouting, harvesting, cleaning and treating seed… everything.” She then sells the seed to farmers in the surrounding area, who plant, harvest and sell to local grain elevators. In turn, the products of Gretchen’s seed are shipped all over the world in the form of food, fuel, animal feed and more.
Gretchen believes there is great importance and opportunity in farming, not only on R Farm, but across the state of Ohio as well. “I think the future of agriculture in Ohio is strong; it has to be. The demand for crops and animals keeps increasing because the population is rising, and the more people there are, the more food we need. Although the future is not mapped out exactly, agriculture is a necessity and will continue to be.”
She also believes adaption is vital in keeping a farm running smoothly. “Keeping informed of what’s new, what’s possible and even what may need to change is all an important part of looking forward.” And despite the misconceptions that may occur, farming is a job that keeps people on their toes, and Gretchen is no exception. “Farming is great for me because there is something different happening all the time. I use my hands and mind to accomplish things. I am my own boss and I get to meet great people who are using what I’ve made.”
As she looks toward the future, she sees herself continuing to do everything possible to make sure that her farm runs smoothly, which includes nurturing the land in order to ensure continued success well into the years ahead.
Terry is a fifth-generation farmer on both sides of the family. Along with his father, Terry’s son has also joined the family farming operation that includes 4000 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat in northwest Ohio near Grover Hill. Since 2005, they have also served as contract growers, raising 8000 hogs for another farming operation.
“We look at things on a generational basis. This isn’t just about ‘Can I make enough money this year?’ It’s about how good the land will be for my grandson or his grandson,” says Terry. “Today I’m draining a farm that my dad bought in the ’50s. We’re adding drainage to it so it will produce more crops, be more efficient. I may not see the payback in my lifetime, but my son and his family will.
Not only is farming an important part of his family’s future, but Terry also believes it’s an important part of everyone’s future. For him, seed technology is the logical next step. “The seed companies and the technology pipeline assure us that they will be able to grow 50 percent more off of our fields in 20, 30, 40 years. If you look at the population numbers, we will have to do that. Farmers have always risen to the occasion, and we will again. From fuel to chemicals to seed, we are improving every aspect of our farms.”
Today, farmers like Terry are trying to feed more people using less land and fewer resources. They have always risen to the occasion because they know agriculture and all that it brings, is a basic necessity.
Terry works hard to implement best farming practices and maintain the land for many years to come. “We sustain life in this country—in the world really—on a thin sliver of productive top soil. Protecting that soil for the future is so important. There’s too much value not to utilize the land and care for it the best ways we can.”
Rachel Heimerl and her husband, Matt, farm fulltime with Matt’s parents and two brothers in Johnstown, Ohio. Not only do they raise grain crops, hogs and cattle, but they also run a trucking business by hauling feed, grain and livestock for other area farms. Their hogs make up the largest portion of their farming operation, which includes 15,000 sows and produces more than 300,000 hogs per year by working with 70 other family farms that house and raise many of the pigs.
The Heimerl family works together to stay on top of the latest farming practices, run a successful business and be good stewards of the land and animals. Rachel works as the farm office manager while Matt manages day-to-day farm operations, and oversees the cattle division of the farm and trucking fleet. Both she and Matt received degrees from The Ohio State University before returning to farming. “I have always said that no matter where I landed after I finished school, it would be somewhere doing something involving agriculture. It’s in my blood and will always be a subject I enjoy working in and talking about,” says Rachel.
Rachel’s passion has led her to help further educate the public about farming through her active involvement in the community and agricultural organizations. “As farmers, people really don’t understand what we do. It’s important we make sure they understand where their food comes from and that we’re doing what we can to protect the animals, the environment and the food they consume.” She also wants to assure the public that her family’s farm animals are treated with the utmost respect and highest level of care.
Rachel says that while the Heimerl farm is a large operation and what some may label as a “factory farm”, it’s still a family-run business. “If our farm was not growing and evolving, we would not all be able to live and work on the family farm,” Rachel says. “My father-in-law has worked very hard to give his three sons the same opportunity that he had growing up.” It is an opportunity Rachel and her husband hope to pass on to their daughter Lauren, along with the passion, responsibilities and rewards that come with it.
“Agriculture is our future,” says Rachel. “Not only for my family but for all families that consume food. I’m honored and grateful to be a part of it.”
Dan Corcoran is one of four brothers who each graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in agriculture. He now farms with his three siblings on their fourth-generation family farm located in the Canada River Valley in Ohio. They grow 5,000 acres of soybeans, corn and wheat, while also running an Angus beef cattle operation.
Through his experience in agriculture, Dan recognizes the importance and blessings that farming can bring to peoples’ lives.
“Being a farmer is amazing. I have the satisfaction of planting the crops and raising the animals that will help feed people. It’s a great occupation and I’m so very proud to have the opportunity to work on the farm every day.”
Growing up, Dan quickly discovered that beyond all the hard work involved in farming, there’s always something new to learn.
“It’s not just about how hard you work; it’s about how smart you work. Knowledge gained is what helps us progress in agriculture. Like anything else, I think there are always things to improve.”
Dan also understands that many people are disconnected from farming and is happy to find opportunities to connect with them.
“As the population increases, more people are getting further and further away from agriculture. We need to find ways to close the gap in terms of understanding what’s going on in the world of farming, because it’s a part of everyone’s life.”
If there’s one message Dan believes is most important for people to understand, it’s that farmers are looking out for the best interests of everyone.
“My number-one job is to produce a safe product for my family and yours, whether directly or indirectly. We have such a great supply of healthy, abundant food. That makes us all very fortunate,” says Dan. “Bottom line, we’re producing products on the farm that everyone can appreciate.”