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The generational American “Family Farm”

Donna Jeschke

The greatest reward of being part of a farming family is that we get to share our love of the land, our environment, and of growing food with our grandchildren. My husband, Paul, and I are part of a farming family that includes our son, my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. We grow corn and soybeans about 75 miles southwest of Chicago, Illinois.

Both Paul’s and my family have been farmers for generations. Our German forefathers were family farmers even before moving to the United States over a century ago. To be family farmers in the U.S. today means both opportunities and challenges.

We have the opportunity to use the best technology on our farm. This includes planting, harvesting, crop protection, and crop nutrient application machines that are equipped to enable us to: 1) place seeds at a precise depth and spacing when planting; 2) monitor corn and soybean yields in real-time while harvesting; and 3) to apply pesticides and fertilizer when and where needed for crop health.

Our family farm has the opportunity to make independent purchasing decisions about which seeds and pesticides we use. The scientific advances in seed genetics and pesticides allow us to grow a safe, high quality and abundant product.

Our challenges include educating ourselves, our regulatory agencies, our elected officials and consumers. As farmers we spend many hours learning what new products are available to us. We scout fields continually during the growing season to learn how the different seed varieties and genetic traits are preforming in our fields. Vigilant scouting and soil testing also allow us to make the best decisions about fertilizer and pesticide application.

We are involved with our farm organizations and, together, communicate with governmental agencies and officials who administer and make laws affecting agriculture. We also look for opportunities to dialogue with non-farm consumers about how we grow food on the farm today.

This summer our 2- and 4-year old granddaughters were so very excited to point out tasseling corn plants from their car seats as we drove down the road—one might say that farming is “genetic”!

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