Leader Farms, Seneca - Billie L. Leader, owner
Prater Farms, Neosho - Chad & Debra Prater, owners
Austin Farm, Neosho – Lynda Mills, Christine Logan, Thomas Austin, owners
Wilson Farms, Stark City-Newtonia, Bill & Karen Wilson, owners
This year the University of Missouri Extension and the Missouri Farm Bureau will recognize 222 farms from 87 of our state’s counties with the Century Farm status. To qualify for the Century Farm designation, in addition to having been in the same family for 100 years or more, the farm must have at least 40 acres of the original land still making a financial contribution to the overall farm income. The line of ownership, starting with the original settler or buyer, may be through their children their grandchildren, siblings, nephews or nieces, or through marriage or adoption.
Missouri’s Century Farm awards date back to 1975 when our state was making plans for the American Revolution Bicentennial celebration in 1976. At that time, Governor Christopher Bond suggested that agriculture should play a prominent role in the celebration, since it was Missouri’s number one industry. Bond appointed the Missouri Agriculture Committee to come up with suggestions on the role agriculture could play in the state’s celebration. The suggestion was made to have Centennial Farm award certificates be presented to farmers owning farms that have been in the same family for 100 years or more. A total of 2,850 Missouri farm owners from 105 of Missouri’s 114 counties were recognized as Centennial Farm owners. Interest in the program continued to grow even after the Bicentennial celebration had ended.
The University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture and Food and Natural Resources, along with the University Extension planned a ten year update in 1986. At this time—when they were the sole sponsors of the award—they changed its name to the Century Farm Program, and another 1,080 farms were recognized. Beginning in 1987, recognitions for Century Farms were made on a yearly basis, and since 1987, 4,440 farms have received this designation. In 2008, the Missouri Farm Bureau joined the University Extension as one of the award sponsor.
The idea of centennial—or century –farms and ranches in the United States spread from state to state. New York was the first state to make such recognitions, having begun in 1937. In addition to Century Farms, some states recognize sesquicentennial farms at 150 years, or bicentennial farms at 200 years.
Congratulations to all our state’s newest Century Farm award winners, and especially to those in Newton County. The recognition of the farms that have been designated as Missouri Century Farms—and their farm families—honors the long-term values and commitment of those individuals who live and work on their land. This is a major milestone for those families whose ownership and commitment to our state’s agriculture have become a part of Missouri’s identity. Building on the values of the family farm will help keep our state’s agriculture industry productive, while providing food and fiber for generations to come.