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August 25, 2013

OUR VIEW: Farming heritage remains strong

If there was doubt that agriculture heritage is alive and well here, the area’s showing at the Hoosier Homestead awards ceremony at the Indiana State Fair should set the record straight.

This year, 58 families were recognized for having owned their farms for 100 consecutive years. Of those, six families call Carroll, Miami, Pulaski and Fulton counties home.

Soon we’ll see these farmers proudly displaying their signs designating them as Hoosier Homesteads. It’s a sight we can see on too many farms to count.

And that’s a good sign of these families’ commitment to farming in the area and pays homage to the state’s rich agricultural heritage.

Since the Hoosier Homestead program was instituted in 1976, more than 5,000 farms have received the honor.

Yes, agriculture is truly alive and well in Indiana.

And when you consider all the advancements, setbacks and hardships that have changed the farming industry in the last 100 years, their achievement is even more impressive.

Just ask Gary Raber, a local 2013 Hoosier Homestead winner. He’ll tell you how farming used to be and how plenty has changed.

In his 40 years in the industry, he recalls planting corn with a two-row corn planter. Now, he has someone harvesting corn for him with a 12-row combine.

But one thing has always been the same.

“I just have dirt in my blood,” Raber said of farming.

Raber and the other recipients of Homestead awards show us it’s about more than just farming. They’re doing more than raising livestock and growing food. They’re also raising families and growing community.

In essence, these farms are small businesses. There aren’t many businesses that can say they have survived for more than a century. And these businesses have played a vital role in the state’s economic stability.

In 2008, the sale of all farmers’ commodities totaled more than $10 billion. In 2009, Indiana ranked 15th in the nation for total farm sales.

In many cases, these Hoosier Homesteads are leading the way.

So for that, we offer big congratulations to our area recipients as they look forward to another 100 years of living off the land.

THE ISSUE Six families honored as Hoosier Homesteads. OUR VIEW

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