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Diagonal couple win Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award

Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 10:15 a.m. CDT

DES MOINES — Jim and Ann Werner of rural Diagonal in Ringgold County have been named the May winners of the “Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award.”

Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jay Johnson will present the award to the Werner’s Friday at Diagonal Community Center. The “Big Show,” which airs on both WHO and WMT radio, will broadcast live from the presentation from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“Jim and Ann Werner are true leaders in Iowa agriculture and deserving winners of the Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said. “They do a tremendous job of caring for their animals and protecting the land while being active in their community. They are another great example of the tremendous livestock farmers we have in Iowa.”

The Werner’s have been involved in the cattle industry for 40 years and their family now has a 500-head purebred Angus cow herd. The Werner’s have four children who are all involved in related businesses around the cattle operation.

The Werner’s were nominated for the award by Trent Johnston, president of Ringgold County Cattlemen’s Association. Johnston highlighted the work of the family on their farm, in the community and as statewide leaders in the cattle industry in nominating them for the award.

“When they first began their farming career, the Werner’s acquired some land that had gullies large enough to lose a combine in,” said Johnston. “Since then they’ve worked continuously to repair the land. They have 29 acres dedicated to filter strips along streams in their land, and they’ve established 14 ponds. They plant cover crops like rye and radishes to complement no-tilling.”

The Werner’s are active Diagonal School boosters and regularly host tours for school groups from both Diagonal and Mount Ayr. Students from Iowa State University, Oklahoma State University and the community colleges in Creston and Cedar Rapids have also visited their farm to learn more about agriculture.

“The Werner’s are always available to help neighbors and promote agriculture whenever they can,” Johnston added.

The Werner’s have received the 2001 Iowa Seedstock Producers of the Year award, 2011 Iowa Environmental Stewardship Award and 2013 Master Farmer Award.

The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award, made possible through the financial support of the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take pride in doing things right. This includes caring for the environment and their livestock and being good neighbors. It is named in memory of Gary Wergin, a long-time WHO Radio farm broadcaster who helped create the award.

Anyone interested in nominating their neighbor for the award should write a letter or email explaining why their neighbor should receive this designation. Applications may be submitted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Attn: Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award, Henry A. Wallace Building, Des Moines, IA 50319 or emailed to Communications@iowaAgriculture.gov.

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