Farmersburg-area farmland owners featured in new book

For Release: September 15, 2016

FARMERSBURG, Iowa — Farmersburg-area farmland owners Jeff Klinge and Deb Tidwell are among the more than 25 farmland owners featured in a new book, “The Future of Family Farms: Practical Farmers’ Legacy Letters Project.”

The book gathers the letters and stories of families about the land they cherish – how they acquired it, what they treasure most about it and their hopes for its future. Some of the writers descend from families who have owned a particular patch of earth since the 1800s, while others became farmland owners more recently. Some are no longer farmland owners at all, because after careful thought about what matters most to them, they sold their land to the next generation of farmers.

In the book, Jeff Klinge documents fond memories from childhood, including sending cattle to Chicago by semi and then catching a train to watch the cattle sell and take in a baseball game. He discusses how his parents managed to transfer their farm to Jeff and two of his brothers, and his current farming system, which includes cattle and certified organic crops. He also talks about his hopes for the farmland’s future after he’s gone.

“My top goal is to keep family harmony . . . . Family comes first; close second is land. That’s what’s most important. I want to use the farmland to conserve and improve the soil, increase biodiversity, improve water quality and other conservation.”

Both Jeff and Deb discuss the importance in their lives of their friend Dan Specht, who farmed near McGregor and died in a farm accident in 2013. Deb also writes, “I appreciate the longevity of five generations on this farm. When you live on a farm all of your life, it is what it is. But I think I helped Jeff see how amazing it is. There’s such a history here that is just taken for granted.”

Teresa Opheim, Farm Transfer Program director with Practical Farmers of Iowa, compiled the volume and says: “We are so pleased that so many farmland owners like Jeff and Deb are willing to share their stories for this book. They are leaders in tackling farmland succession issues, which are affecting so many people. Forty percent of America’s farmland is owned by those ages 65 and older, so now more than ever, it is time for farmland owners to think through the legacy they want to leave behind.”

The book is receiving national attention. “The Future of Family Farms is a timely and important new book,” says Julia Freedgood of the American Farmland Trust. “The Practical Farmers’ stories are both moving and relevant, reinforcing the need for families not only to have shared commitment but also a vision and plan for the future – whether they’ve been farming for more than a hundred years or are beginning farmers.”

According to Jim Habana Hafner of Land for Good, based in New Hampshire, “PFI and its members are an inspiration! They remind us all that family, community and stewardship are at the heart of farming. Their stories are a call to action to everyone who ‘belongs to the land’: Start the conversation today about your farm’s legacy.”

To order the book, visit www.uiowapress.org/books/2016-fall. Help for writing your own farm legacy letter is available at www.practicalfarmers/org/farmtransfer.

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Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit http://practicalfarmers.org.

Contacts:

Teresa Opheim | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]