Across the country, there are 11,000 family farmers that grow sugarbeets and sugarcane. Many of these farms have been passed down from generation to generation.
In Boulder County, Colorado, generations of experience are building a more sustainable future. Paul Schlagel is a fourth-generation farmer whose family has farmed the same land for 100 years.
Paul serves as the Chairman of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association Biotechnology and Research Committee and is an advocate for modern, sustainable farming.
And the Schlagel family farm has certainly changed over the past 100 years, largely thanks to some incredible advances in technology.
About 10 years ago, the farm moved to a more sustainable sprinkler system. This allows the farm to use 30 percent less water.
“We’re using less fuel and the sprinklers are key to being able to apply nutrients more accurately and throughout the season,” Paul said.
In Idaho, Galen Lee always knew he wanted to be a farmer. He’s the fourth generation on the family farm, working in partnership with his parents.
“You know they say you can take the boy off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy,” Galen said. “It’s some long days and hard hours but there’s a lot of rewards in it.”
Galen noted that there have been many changes on the farm since he was a boy. More climate-smart practices and data-driven decisions have put Galen and other farmers on the forefront of the fight to conserve our natural resources.
“To me, it is making sure that that soil that I’m working here is just as productive as it can be and as productive as it can be 20 years from now just like my grandfather took care of it,” Galen said.
Galen credits America’s no-cost sugar policy and other Farm Bill programs with creating a reliable environment for farm producers in invest in sustainability.
“If we didn’t have the Farm Bill… and the sugar policy that we have, it’d be pretty uncertain and be pretty hard to keep doing what we’re doing,” Galen stated. “Makes all the difference in the world… keeps not only sugarbeets but all of agriculture alive.”