Editor's note: Bev Durgan is the dean of University of Minnesota Extension.
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.
Unquestionably, farm families care about the land. As stewards of the land, they know they need to maintain it for future generations, just as they know that their land produces food and energy that must serve a doubling population by 2050.
Farmers contribute in ways that matter to the entire state, providing more than 340,000 jobs and $75 billion in economic activity. They also contribute their time and skills to solve community problems, and keep their schools, businesses and youth organizations strong. Many volunteer for 4-H and other groups, and donate generously to these efforts.
Each year, University of Minnesota Extension works directly with farm families to understand and address the challenges of farming. I would like to thank all the families who welcome University faculty onto their farms and share their knowledge and experience with us. Farm families make incalculable contributions to the science of agriculture. We are honored to know them, and to work together to improve our food and energy system.
Note: You can read a brief profile of all 76 University of Minnesota Farm Families of the Year at http://mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu.