Have preconceived opinions about big farms? Meet Iowa farmers

Iowa commodity growers are often demonized for what and how they grow, and monocultures and ethanol aren’t exactly healthy for the planet. But all of the farming families I talked to expressed a deep respect for the land and the desire to take good care of it for the next generation. If we want to understand how and why our agriculture system is the way it is, we’d be wise to approach all farmers with an open mind.

So, meet a few of Iowa’s farmers. Here are our edited and condensed conversations:

Brock Hansen

Farm stats: 2,300 acres of corn and soybeans in Baxter, Iowa

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In what ways are the goals of the food movement consistent with the goals on this farm?

I don’t see the consumer, to tell you the truth. It’s a closed circuit for me. I take our grain straight to the ethanol plant. But you know, consumers are asking them for non-GMO bean meal to feed non-GMO pigs at the company we haul our beans to. There’s a growing demand for that. But you as a consumer, and me as a producer, our paths don’t usually cross.

When the consumer asks us what we’re doing, I tell them we’re trying to be better. I don’t think our story is told enough, but we’re trying. I blame some of that on the media — no offense. It’s easy to cover the bad things, not the good things. For instance, we’ve been no-till for 25 or 30 years, which helps with erosion and creates better top soil; we’ve introduced cover crops; we use GPS equipment to help minimize over-use of chemicals; we’ve upgraded grain driers; we applied for an energy grant to make the drier more efficient, to use less natural gas; we’re looking at putting up a wind turbine. We’re trying to be environmental, green — whatever you call it.

Read full, original article: Think commodity corn farmers are evil? Meet a few of them

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