Century Farm in rural Chelsea, Iowa. (SB photo)

Century Farm in rural Chelsea, Iowa. (SB photo)

In speaking with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey last week, he mentioned that his favorite day of the year happens during the Iowa State Fair.

That’s when Northey has the honor of recognizing Iowa farms that have been in families for generations as part of the Century and Heritage Farm program.

Nearly two years ago, I was able to participate when my uncle, Craig Musel, received the Century award for his rural Chelsea farm. If you or someone you know might qualify for this honor, I would highly recommend it. It’s quite a memorable day.

Here is more about the award from Northey’s office:

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey encourages eligible farm owners to apply for the 2013 Century and Heritage Farm Program.  The program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau and recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms.

“These awards are an opportunity to recognize the hard work and commitment by these families that is necessary to keep a farm in the same family for 100 or 150 years,” Northey said.  “If you consider all the challenges and unexpected obstacles each of them would have had to overcome during their life on the farm, it gives you a greater appreciation of the dedication and perseverance of each of the families being recognized.”

Applications are available on the Department’s website at www.IowaAgriculture.gov by clicking on the Century Farm or Heritage Farm link under “Hot Topics.”

Applications may also be requested from Becky Lorenz, Coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program via phone at 515-281-3645, email at Becky.Lorenz@IowaAgriculture.gov or by writing to Century or Heritage Farms Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319.

Farm families seeking to qualify for the Century or Heritage Farms Program must submit an application to the Department no later than June 1, 2013.

The ceremony to recognize the 2013 Century and Heritage Farms will be held at the Iowa State Fair and is scheduled for Tuesday, August 13th.

The Century Farm program began in 1976 as part of the Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration and 17,486 farms from across the state have received this recognition.  The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and 583 farms have been recognized.

Last year 345 Century Farms and 69 Heritage Farms were recognized.

“Century and Heritage Farm recognitions at the Iowa State Fair are a great celebration of Iowa agriculture and the families that care for the land and produce our food,” Northey said.  “I hope eligible families will take the time to apply and then come to the State Fair to be recognized.”