Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging Iowans to nominate deserving farmers for the 2016 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year Award. The award is given out each year to one statewide winner who is making outstanding contributions towards soil conservation and water quality. The award is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.
“The award recognizes a farmer who has gone above and beyond in their conservation efforts. It is important that we recognize the continuous voluntary improvements made by all Iowa farmers and help raise awareness about the efforts by farmers to conserve our valuable soil and protect water quality,” says Northey.
The statewide winner again this year will have free use of a John Deere 6D series utility tractor or its equivalent for up to 12 months (or up to 200 hours). The Van Wall Group and John Deere are providing the use of the tractor to the state winner.
Write a brief letter; submit it to your local SWCD office
To nominate a deserving farmer, the nominator needs to write a brief letter (100 words or less) and submit it to their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office. Nominations must be submitted by June 5. Upon receipt of the nomination letter, the District will then help complete the full application. The local SWCD will select one nomination to advance for consideration for the Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI) Regional Conservation Award.
“Conservation of our land and water is something that all Iowans believe in, and through the Conservation Farmer of the Year award, more Iowans can learn about the continuous conservation progress being made by so many farmers today,” says IFBF president Craig Hill.
The nine regional award winners will then be considered for the statewide Conservation Farmer of the Year award. Representatives from the Iowa Department of Ag, ISU Extension, CDI, the State Soil Conservation Committee, USDA/NRCS and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation serve on the award selection committee.
Farmers, farm managers, Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs), agribusiness and financial professionals, ag organizations, and other interested Iowans are encouraged to nominate deserving farmers. The local SWCD office will have all the nomination details. A SWCD directory is available on the Department’s website at IowaAgriculture.gov under “Hot Topics.” The winner will be honored August 30 at the Conservation Districts of Iowa Annual meeting in Altoona.
Complete Iowa commercial horticulture survey for food crops
In other news, the Iowa Department of Agriculture announced last week that the Iowa Commercial Horticulture Survey for Food Crops is being mailed statewide to farmers who raise horticulture food crops. Farmers are asked to complete the survey and return to the department by March 15, 2016.
“It has been 15 years since a similar survey was created and sent to producers, and much has changed in that time,” says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. “This is a rapidly growing and very diverse sector of Iowa’s ag economy. It is vital that we capture reliable and current statistics. The data gathered will provide insights and guidance to producers, researchers, policymakers, agricultural-related businesses and the public at large,” Northey says.
Iowa commercial horticulture producers who have not received a survey can request one by calling 515-242-6239 or by going online to request one at iowaagriculture.gov/agDiversification.asp.
The survey hopes to capture the 2015 data of commercial production of the state’s fruit and vegetable crops as well as that of nuts, honey, maple syrup and herbs. Data collected will also include information on acres under production, high tunnel and greenhouse usage, information on processed and value-added products, and marketing outlets. Results of the survey will be available in December. The survey is the result of a cooperative effort by many organizations including the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa field office of the National Ag Statistics Service, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Iowa Farmers Market Association, and Eat Greater Des Moines.