Agriculture keeps advancing, adapting new technology to meet the needs of an increasingly global economy. Challenges have intensified as well – a lengthy drought, heavy precipitation and uncertain farm policies, to mention a few.
The University of Minnesota started the Farm Family of the Year program 33 years ago to recognize successful farm families for their impact on our economy and rural communities. This year, families from 76 Minnesota counties will be recognized for their contributions to agriculture, the economy, and rural communities at an Aug. 8 ceremony at Farmfest, the state’s largest farm gathering.
I salute those selected as 2013 University of Minnesota farm families because they represent the ideals shared by all farm families. Minnesota farm families not only persist and endure, but they continually improve the way they manage the land and produce food for the world. Farm families keep pace with change and innovate, while juggling busy lives and unexpected challenges.
With August right around the corner, county fair season begins. Fairs provide us with an opportunity to learn and relax before we begin another harvest and school year. The fair contains a plethora of events, one could easily say “something for everyone.” From carnival rides and games, tractor pulls, demo derbies, live music, and fun foods to the showing of prize livestock, garden vegetables, art or handiwork, homemade goods and more. There is much to do at the fair.
County fairs were first developed in the United States in the early nineteenth century. Agricultural reformers in Northeastern U.S. and the Agricultural Society organized these small fairs to promote modern farming. Originally, county fairs were developed as a way to educate and congregate farmers and the rural society. Fairs used this opportunity to show the newest farm equipment, the best of livestock breeds and crops; it provided valuable connections among farmers. Farming clubs and organizations such as 4-H and FFA are able to advocate their organization and teach youth about agriculture. Young girls and boys were encouraged to exhibit their arts and homemade products. New performers are introduced and farm businesses had the chance to advertise.
Submitted farm artifacts may be featured in “American Enterprise” for world to see
No one knows how much agriculture has evolved and transformed over time better than America’s farmers. That’s why the Smithsonian National Museum of American History is seeking farmers’ help in telling stories of the innovation and experiences of farming and ranching across the United States.
Farmers are invited to share their personal stories about the ways innovation and technology have helped to continually improve the industry at www.americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is currently seeking stories, photographs and other memorabilia to feature in its upcoming “American Enterprise” exhibition, which will paint the picture of American business through agriculture, consumer finance, information technology/communication, manufacturing and retail/service.
“Agriculture continually evolves and has become extremely efficient and sustainable with the help of new technologies,” says Sharon Covert, a farmer-leader on the United Soybean Board (USB), which recently committed a $1 million investment in support of the exhibition. “Sharing your stories and artifacts of agriculture’s transformations will allow the public to see incredible strides the industry has made in order to provide food, feed, fuel and fiber for the rest of the world.”
The Farm Service Agency County Office Committee is the most direct link between America’s farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA, elections for committee membership are crucial and it is important that every eligible producer take part. Elected by area farmers, the FSA county committees represent the best of government at the local level, bringing the resources and expertise of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to meet the needs of producers where they live - at home. The election for one-third of the national county committee system is approaching fast.
FSA’s county committee system bears much of the responsibility for making national agriculture programs fit the needs and situations faced by local producers. Committees make decisions on commodity price support loans and payments; establishment of allotments, yields, and marketing quotas; conservation programs; incentive, indemnity and disaster payments for some commodities, and other disaster assistance.
The Stearns County Extension office located in St. Cloud will be on the move for the week of the 2013 Stearns County Fair.
The office will temporarily be relocating to the Stearns County Fairgrounds in Sauk Centre from Tuesday, July 30, through Sunday, Aug. 4. Normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday will return on Monday Aug. 5, in the St. Cloud office located in the Midtown Square Office Building at 3400 1st St North, Suite 103, St. Cloud, MN 56303.
The Stearns County Extension Office helps people access research-based knowledge from the University of Minnesota in areas such as agriculture, horticulture, youth development/4-H,
community nutrition and food safety. The local office also offers unique services such as soil testing for your garden, lawn and field; or the testing of pressure canner gauges in preparation for the canning season. Information can be accessed through one-on-one contact with an Extension educator as well as through the extensive online resources available at www.extension.umn.edu.