|Lieutenant Governor, Suzanne Crouch, (front row/middle) joined the 49 recipients who were able to attend the ceremony at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, for the 2017 River Friendly Farmer awards. NRCS State Conservationist Jane Hardisty and Indiana Farm Bureau President, Randy Kron, were also on hand to congratulate farmers for their outstanding conservation practices.|
In a ceremony on August 16, to coincide with Farmers’ Day at the 2017 Indiana State Fair, 49 Indiana Farmers from 44 counties throughout the state received the River-Friendly Farmer award. These exceptional farmers join the over 900 farmers who have been recognized since 1999 by the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) for their commitment to protect Indiana’s natural resources, in particular Indiana’s waterways.
Indiana Lieutenant Governor, Suzanne Crouch, along with Indiana Farm Bureau President, Randy Kron, presented the awards to each recipient. Lt. Gov. Crouch spoke to the farmers and their families on Wednesday regarding their efforts, stating, “Your goals to improve soil quality and water quality and to restore and sustain human and wildlife habitat in Indiana’s watersheds is truly outstanding.”
Meghan Grebner from Brownfield Ag News emceed the event in the 4-H Exhibit Hall Auditorium on the state fairgrounds. Jane Hardisty, Indiana State Conservationist and the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ President, Jamie Scott, were also present and honored the farmers for their care of the soil, streams, rivers and lakes.
The River Friendly Farmers were nominated for this award by their local Soil and Water Conservation District based upon their management practices, which help keep rivers, lakes and streams clean in Indiana and beyond. This annual award is sponsored by the IASWCD, the 92 local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc. A full list of this year’s winners including short bios and individual photos can be viewed on the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts website (http://iaswcd.org/river-friendly-farmer-award/).
Fulton County – Harsh Farms produces corn, soybeans, a little hay and sometimes wheat. It is located in the Tippecanoe River Watershed. Matt maintains grass buffer strips along the Graham Ditch, which starts and runs through the property, and have some grass waterways. By using cover crops and no-till, they have been able to sequester carbon and build organic matter. Matt states, “Although we have yet to actually scientifically measure the impact of what our never-till and cover crop system has done to the quality of water leaving our farm, we can visually see it.” His ultimate goal in implementing conservation practices is to be the lowest cost producer, have the least negative impact on the environment and leave the land he farms in better shape than how he found it. He has been an SWCD supervisor since 2006 and hosted and helped with many field days promoting conservation. He is a 4-H volunteer, president of Akron Lion’s Club, a leader in his church and board member and coach with the local baseball league.