News And Events

OCIA Research & Education Farmer of the Year - 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

LINCOLN, NE: The Outstanding Organic Farmer of the Year is an annual award honoring and recognizing talented producers who certify to the OCIA level of excellence. These farmers excel in thoughtful cropping and livestock practices that build soil and reduce pest and weeds. They maintain and enhance the environment. They are innovative in farm practices. They ensure integrity and safety of food and manage their farm operations in a safe and conscious fashion. Outstanding organic farmers are involved in the organic community, promoting and supporting organic agriculture. They are often also involved members of their local communities.

Seth and Loretta Smith from Nemaha, Iowa were recognized as the 2017 OCIA R&E Outstanding Farmer of the Year. On their farm (Coon River Farms, Inc.) they grow a corn, soybeans, oats, alfalfa, and cover crop rotation. They also run 190 beef cow/calf pairs and finish beef cattle in their 2,000 hd feedlot.

Seth describes his weed control in the following way. The composting process kills viable weed seeds in the manures and the years of small grains and alfalfa work to clean up pesky perennials and broadleaf. Leaving the soil untouched until spring allows scavenging animals like field mice to eat weed seeds dropped on top of the soil. Then, the cowherd cleans up any corn and soybeans that were left as well as any grasses that are out in the field.

Seth believes that his compost is the major component of his soil building strategy. Planting a variety of crops including covers, builds the soil by feeding the microbes. Using a variety of farming strategies like shallow undercutting of hay crops to terminate them, ridgetill, and shallow spring tillage provide variety for their soils and its inhabitants.

Seth and his family work hard to maintain the natural environment in and around their farm. They have converted some marginal land that was recently bought back to pasture. They also cleaned up many years of trash and terrible management by prior owner on a marginal farm and have reintroduced native grass and legume species.

Seth stays active in his local OCIA Iowa Chapter #1 and has served as past president on their board. He has hosted several field days and was chosen by Farm Credit Services to be in an ad campaign to connect urban consumers with farmers. Their picture and story are on Tastee O cereal boxes at Hy-Vee.

Contact: Angie Tunink, Marketing Director
               OCIA International, Inc.
Phone:   (402) 477-2323
E-mail:   atunink@ocia.org

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OCIA is a not-for-profit organic certification agency that has offered a wide variety of accreditations to our members throughout the world for over 25 years. During an annual meeting, approximately organic farmers from the United States, Canada and Latin America come together to meet and vote on the Bylaws, Standards and Board of Directors for this member-run organization.