COLUMBUS — Two things are important to this year’s Environmental Stewardship Award winners: each farm’s rich history and bright future, thanks to the owners’ management and love of the land.
Protecting the environment on their farms and in their communities plays a vital role in where each operation has been in the past and where the producers expect to be in the future, according to Sandy Kuhn, executive director of the Ohio Livestock Coalition, which cooperates with seven commodity organizations to present the awards.
The Environmental Stewardship Award program annually honors outstanding accomplishments made by farmers who develop and implement exemplary management practices that protect the environment and conserve precious natural resources.
In doing so, they have minimized their operations’ footprints on the environment by working to preserve and improve water and air quality, to protect the land and promote wildlife.
This year’s award winners were recognized during Ohio Livestock Coalition’s annual meeting April 8.
• Beef: Sims Farms, Mike and Sharon Sims, Greenfield, Highland County.
• Corn and soybeans: Long Farms, Bruce and Tod Long, South Charleston, Clark County.
• Pork: Dull Homestead Inc., Peter Dull, Brookville, Montgomery County.
• Poultry: Neil and Gina Boeckman, Celina, Mercer County.
• Sheep: Lambshire Polypays, John and James Anderson, Shreve, Wayne County.
“Each of these farms has a strong history,” Kuhn said. “These are family operations; regardless of the size, they support the families that own and operate them. The only way they’ll continue to do that into the future is to act responsibly by taking care of the land, air and water around them.”
Kuhn said she’s encouraged about the future of animal agriculture in Ohio because of farms like those being honored this year.
The Ohio Livestock Coalition and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Neighbor of the Year awards were created to recognize livestock producers and rural residents who work hard to build bridges between neighbors in Ohio’s countryside.
Being a good neighbor means being responsible, courteous and respectful of others.
A good neighbor is considerate of private property and the need for farmers to safeguard their business that helps preserve the rural landscape that everyone enjoys.
Exemplifying these characteristics are the 2008 Neighbor of the Year nominees: Gene Humbarger of Williams County and Hord Livestock of Crawford County.
Humbarger, the 2008 Non-Farmer Neighbor of the Year, was nominated by Leon Weaver of Bridgewater Dairy LLC.
“Gene is always talking up the dairy, animal agriculture and agriculture in general to the neighbors and friends throughout the greater Montpelier area,” said Weaver.
“He interacts with youth with an interest in animal agriculture and has contacted the dairy to explore internship opportunities for such youth.”
In recognition of his neighborly ways, Humbarger was presented with a plaque and proclamation of gratitude from Ohio Gov. Tom Strickland. In addition, Humbarger received a $250 cash donation to his favorite local charity, Compassion Medical Clinic, courtesy of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
The second award, Livestock Farmer Neighbor of the Year, was presented to Hord Livestock of Bucyrus, which was nominated by the Ohio Pork Producers Council.
Hord Livestock has taken great measures to become leaders and role models in the area of neighbor relations. They contact neighbors through their Neighbor Newsletter that invites the community to share dates and times of special occasions, which Hord Livestock plans their manure application around.
They are also involved in the community by participating in the Bratwurst Festival Parade, job fairs and county fair booths, donating pork to area soup kitchens, plowing neighbors’ drives with their equipment and delivering Christmas hams to their surrounding neighbors.
Such qualities make Hord Livestock, represented by Pat and Janel Hord and Matt Davis, a worthy winner of this honor.
In recognition of their community commitment, Hord Livestock received a plaque, a proclamation from Strickland and a $250 cash donation to their favorite local charity. This award was presented courtesy of Ohio Farm Bureau.