It's almost 180 years since land that is now the state of Iowa was opened for settlers. The America of the 21st century is far different from the nation presided over by President Andrew Jackson in 1833. There is, however, one constant feature for Iowans - agriculture is at the very heart of economic life in the Hawkeye State.
Consequently, it was a fitting celebration of agriculture and the generations of Iowans who have farmed here that in 1976 - as part of the nation's Bicentennial Celebration - the Century Farms Program was established. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation created the recognition program. It had the endorsement of the Iowa American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. Since its inception, more than 15,000 families have had their farms designated Century Farms.
To be eligible for this recognition a farm must constitute at least 40 acres and have been owned continuously by members of the same family for 100 years or more. The present owner must be related to the person who owned the land a century ago.
Each year at the Iowa State Fair, which is itself a celebration of Iowa agriculture, there is a ceremony honoring that year's additions to the Century Farm honor roll.
''It's a time we honor the families that have shown the persistence, stewardship, hard work, patience and devotion needed to make a farm work,'' Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said, reflecting on why this event is important. ''Each farm is a separate example of a unique and enduring commitment to Iowa agriculture.''
That's a sentiment The Messenger heartily endorses.