Red Gold and ISDA recognize growers for conservation efforts

ELWOOD – The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Red Gold announced the winners of the Red Gold Stewardship award. McKillip Farms of Wabash, Ind. and Lievens Bros. of Petersburg, Mich. were awarded first and second place, respectively.

Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch

“Red Gold is a reputable agribusiness and valuable partner for the State of Indiana and our farmers,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. “This award is a wonderful example of how farmers, private agribusinesses and the state can work together to continue to drive soil conservation forward in Indiana and throughout the Midwest. Congratulations to this year’s award recipients.”

Nate Gage of McKillip Farms

This presentation, now in its 13th year, is a partnership between Red Gold and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. The award is presented to Red Gold growers who value improving soil health and water quality in their operations.

“Red Gold and our growers strive to increase soil conservation year after year and are committed to implementing stewardship practices that improve water quality and enhance soil health,” said Roger Gunning, Director of Ag. “It was an honor to be able to recognize McKillip Farms and Lievens Bros., alongside our many other growers, for continuing to be good stewards of the land and exceptional tomato growers.”

In 1934, McKillip Farms began by growing hybrid seed corn and has since grown into a multi-generational, diverse farming operation. In 2009, they planted their first tomato crop and have been growing tomatoes ever since in addition to corn, soybeans, wheat, and seed corn. On their farm, they have implemented several conservation practices such as filter strips, grassed waterways, cover crops, and others. Nate Gage is part of the fourth generation on the farm and manages the tomato operation.

“Improving soil health and water quality is important to us as we farm near major watersheds,” said Nate Gage. “We feel it is our responsibility to maintain filter strips and waterways along all each of these.”

Lievens Bros. is a fourth-generation farm. Over the past 100 years, Lievens Bros. has been growing corn, soybeans, wheat, and tomatoes on their family farm. They have implemented a multitude of conservation practices on their farm such as cover crops, filter strips, reduced tillage, grass filter strips, and vegetative field borders, among others to promote soil health and water quality.

Brent Lievens of Lievens Bros

“On our farm, we are continuously working to implement new conservation practices to reduce runoff,” said Brent Lievens. “Winning this award would be confirmation we are doing the right thing while also ensuring our farm is productive for many generations to come.”

Indiana is a leader in soil conservation efforts. Hoosier farmers utilize a variety of soil conservation practices and planted over 1.5 million acres of cover crops in 2020.

“Red Gold is an excellent partner for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Hoosier farmers,” said ISDA Director Bruce Kettler. “Congratulations to each of this year’s award recipients and thank you for your commitment to soil conservation and water quality.”

As the top winner, McKillip Farms received a $1,000 scholarship and the option to ship an extra truckload of tomatoes per day during harvest season. Lievens Bros Farm was awarded a $500 scholarship and the opportunity to ship an extra half truckload of tomatoes per day during harvest.

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