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E. M. Tiffany started with the words “I Believe in the future of agriculture,” when he wrote the FFA Creed many years ago. There are many more words to the FFA Creed that should encourage thought and discussion. I have always liked how Tiffany started off his short but thoughtful writing that many FFA members throughout the past years have memorized and recited.

What do you believe about the future of agriculture? What are you doing for the future of agriculture?

Sometimes there are not enough hours in a day to accomplish what needs to be done, and it is difficult to find the time to think about the next day much less into the future. On July 23 I took the time to watch the July 21, 2017, edition of Market to Market on PBS. Market to Market is produced by Iowa Public TV and offers market insight and often covers a topic or two related to rural life.

The July 21 edition featured a story of a former Iowa farmer named Harold Darner and his actions that demonstrated his belief in the future of agriculture and of young people that hope, dream, and work to become successful farmers.

In the 1960s Mr. Darner took action that has helped and will continue to help young farmers and in the long run benefit the University of Iowa. Mr. Darner created a trust that included his farm and thoughts on what he wanted done with it in the future.

Almost 30 years later the Darner Trust was set into motion with the Bank Iowa serving as trustee. In 1998 the trustee set out to carry out the wishes of Mr. Darner. The trust is to lease out the farm for 100 years, with lease periods of 5 years to tenants that are young couples with a true desire to make farming their life’s work.

The Darner place is 160 acres just south of Fremont, IA. The tenants live in the former Darner home for free. The rent on the farm ground is a reduced rate to allow the beginning farmers to save money for their future farm operation on another farm.

The trustee is to start over every 5 years getting another young farm couple started. This process is to continue to 2098 when the farm will be donated to the University of Iowa.

Over the life span of the Darner Trust the Bank Iowa trustees will have started 20 young couples on their path to a farming future. Mr. Darner’s actions were more than words on paper; they were deeds of action.

I give credit to Iowa Public TV for sharing this story and also thank Bank Iowa for listening to Mr. Darner many years ago and helping to set in motion a rare and generous program for rural Iowa. The video of the Market to Market program covering this story is available at http://site.iptv.org/mtom/story/25029/plan-set-past-helps-beginning-farmers-well-future.

What could you offer for the future of agriculture? You need not offer a farm to help set in motion deeds that could benefit the future of agriculture. Perhaps the establishment of a scholarship fund for youth to attend technical college or another college? Perhaps a fund to support FFA or 4-H groups? Perhaps a fund to support the purchase of supplies or fund the cost of the local Agriculture Education program?

Think of joining in with others if your resources are limited. When groups of individuals begin to work as a team, many things can be done that could not be accomplished by just one or two. Think of the success of many organizations like supply cooperatives or the farm credit system.

Teaming up with others can get things done. Consider a community foundation focused on agriculture projects or Ag scholarships.

When you begin to work with your CPA firm and legal advisory team as for ideas on how to manage your estate and wishes, you may also discuss ideas such as the Darner Trust. There are many great things in the field of agriculture that can use your support. Some may be in in your local area and others could be some distance such as the University of Wisconsin. What do you believe about the future of agriculture?

Bob Panzer lives and farms in Chippewa County, WI. He serves as a Land Manager for Pifer's Auction and Realty, Eau Claire, WI. He may be contacted at tbpanzer@gmail.com.

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