To me there is something enchanting about Century Farms and I love having the opportunity to visit Century Farms around the Ozarks. Over the last couple of weeks I have had the pleasure of sharing the stories of three Century Farms.
It’s fascinating to think of all changes and challenges these farms have faced over the last 100 years and yet they’ve still come out triumphant.
Over the last 100 years we’ve seen the number of American farms decline drastically. Just a century ago 50 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas and 30 percent of the workforce was engaged in farming. Today, less than 2 percent of Americans farm for a living and only 17 percent of Americans live in rural areas. When you read these statistics it becomes a little more obvious as to why I think Century Farms are so special.
The farmers I’ve visited with over the years have shared stories about their farms getting electricity, the change in market prices or the transition from raising multiple species and growing everything they needed to raising just one species of livestock.
As you know, technology has played a significant role in these changes. With technology farmers can producer more than ever before. According to the USDA, in 1945 it took up to 14 labor-hours to produce 100 bushels of corn on 2 acres of land. By 1987 it took under 3 labor-hours to produce that same 100 bushels of corn on just over 1 acre and in 2002 that same bushel of corn was produced on less than 1 acre. Reports from this August showed a new record national average corn yield of 167.4 bushels per acre in 2014.
The Missouri Century Farm program was established in 1976 and has since honored over 100 farms each year. This program aims at recognizing the rich agricultural heritage and honor the families who keep the farms in production.
Ozarks Farm & Neighbor was recently a sponsor at the Salute to Century Farm event where the 2013 and 2014 Century Farm recipients were honored in Greene County Missouri. It was a privilege to be part of this event and get to know some of the people who have kept their family’s farming traditions alive for 100 years or more.
Hats off to every Century Farm out there. You should be proud of yourselves for continuing such a wonderful legacy.