The 2021 Missouri Leopold Conservation Award went to Oetting Homestead Farms in Lafayette County for its commitment to habitat management.
The annual award is presented by the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, American Farmland Trust, Missouri Farmers Care Foundation, Sand County Foundation, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). It was awarded to the Oettings Thursday during the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture in Osage Beach.
“The Oetting family have demonstrated the long-term commitment necessary to constantly build and protect their land, allowing this fifth-and-sixth-generation farm family to continue to make a living producing food for America,” NRCS State Conservationist Scott Edwards said. “Being intentional in implementing conservation practices and investing in the future, make this farm an excellent example of the many good things happening in Missouri agriculture.”
Steve and Sharon Oetting raise more than 3,000 hogs annually and grow wheat, corn, and soybeans. Their efforts to mitigate soil erosion, maintain water and air quality, and protect wildlife earned their farm one of the first certifications in the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Stewardship Program.
The Oettings use all available land to grow no-till corn and soybeans to prevent soil erosion and make use of a three-lagoon system connected to a small lake, eliminating the need to purchase more than a million gallons of fresh water a year. The system also allows them to water livestock and recycle resources from the lagoons to fertilize their crops.
“In agriculture, our greatest resource is the land, and as farmers, it is our duty to be good stewards of that land for future generations,” Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council Chairman Kyle Durham said. “Sustainability is one of the top priorities for the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, and it’s outstanding to see the spotlight on the Oetting family’s example of stewardship.”
The Leopold Conservation Award Program — named in honor of famed conservationist Aldo Leopold — is supported by a myriad of agriculture groups including the Missouri Soybean Association, the Missouri Association of Electric Cooperatives, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, and the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council.
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org.