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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Land of legacy

Friday, August 17, 2012

At the turn of the 20th century, 38 percent of the labor force was farmers. Today, only 2 percent still call farming their own, yet they feed the world with less land, less water, and a sense of stewardship that rivals that of a century ago. Some of today's farmers come from a long line of farming; you might say it's in their blood.

For more than 100 years, their family has farmed the same land, and in Missouri there are 8,120 farms specially recognized for this tradition.

The University of Missouri Extension shepherds a program that tracks and honors those well-worn family farms. The Extension and the University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources partnered with Missouri Farm Bureau (MFB) to sponsor a new book, "Missouri's Century Farms: Preserving Our Agricultural Heritage" that commemorates the 35th anniversary of the Century Farm program. The book was recently released at the Missouri State Fair.

Nearly three years in the making, the book showcases almost 1,000 Missouri farms that have been farmed by the same family for at least 100 years. (A listing of all Century Farms is also included.) Highlighting the history of the Century Farm program, the 400-page book includes the history of Missouri agriculture as well as personal recollections of individuals whose families have successfully transferred their passion for farming to the next generation.

There's something to be said, and celebrated, about longevity. It is no small feat to instill the love of what you do into your children, and as a result they follow in your occupational footsteps.

Many farm kids leave the farm and become doctors, lawyers, businessmen and women and contribute to society with the work ethic they learned on the farm--one that knows how to weather good times and tough times. Those who stay on the farm continue the tradition.

Missouri Farm Bureau is honored to be a part of the effort to preserve the heritage of Missouri agriculture. For nearly two centuries, agriculture has been a strong foundation for Missouri. In the book, histories of the Century Farms bring that foundation to life.

Recollections of individuals like Millie Hurst, mother of MFB President Blake Hurst, provide vivid detail of what it was like to grow up on a family farm in the early 20th century.

Gov. Jay Nixon also contributed to the book and recognized the farming traditions passed down from generation to generation and the families who have attained this special recognition. "Throughout our state's history, Missouri's farm families have passed down their legacy of dedication, perseverance and innovation to future generations," Nixon wrote. "Their tenacity through good times and tough times alike is a true testament to the great men and women of our Century Farms, who are pillars of Missouri's deeply rooted agriculture tradition."

The book is published by Acclaim Press in Sikeston.

Rebecca French Smith, of Columbia, is a multi-media specialist for the Missouri Farm Bureau.



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