New Farm featured farmer recieves sustainability award

AMES, Iowa, posted September 7, 2004: A Boone County farm couple who have been pioneers in sustainable agriculture were honored by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at the Iowa State Fair.

Read more about the Thompsons on New Farm

Proof positive that regenerative ag can out-perform conventional

Sustainable farming’s pioneer couple share the basics from their Iowa farm

Richard and Sharon Thompson of Boone received the 2004 Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture in recognition of their work in promoting the stability of family farms in Iowa.

The Thompsons operate a 300-acre diverse crop and livestock farm, raising beef cattle and hogs. They farmed conventionally for 10 years and in 1968 began to test alternative methods to reduce their use of chemicals and antibiotics. In 1985 they were instrumental in founding Practical Farmers of Iowa, a grassroots farmer organization that focuses on practical research and on-farm demonstrations.

Since 1986, they have hosted more than 8,600 people from 59 countries on their farm and have shared information about their successful system throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, France, Italy and Australia. They keep meticulous records and publish a 200-page annual report with findings of their on-farm experiments.

"The Thompsons began looking for ways to use environmentally sound farming practices that were profitable before anyone began using the term sustainable agriculture," said Leopold Center director Fred Kirschenmann. "They exemplify on-farm research, also done by the Spencers, and have a strong connection to Iowa State University and the land grant mission."

One of the state's largest awards in sustainable agriculture, the Specer Award includes a $1,000 cash gift from the family of Norman and Margaretha Spencer, who farmed near Sioux City for 40 years.

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