GREELEY, Colo. — Having now endured a year like 2012, it "almost boggles the mind" of Jim Magnuson that his family's farm has stayed intact for more than 100 years — a century that's included the Dust Bowl, the drought of the 1950s, the economic downturn of the industry in the 1980s, and, along the way, witnessed many families lose grip of their operations.
"It's not as bad, but a dry year like this one makes you begin to realize how tough it must have been," said Jim, who, at 25, wasn't old enough to have experienced historic hardships until this year. "It shows that our father and grandfathers were dedicated people."
And that dedication was honored last week.
The Magnuson family farm, established in 1910, was one of 10 in the state recognized during the Annual Centennial Farms Celebration Friday at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo — an event that each year honors Colorado families that have operated farms or ranches for 100 years or more.
Ed Nichols, president and CEO of History Colorado, and Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar made acknowledgements and presented the awards to family representatives.
"It was just a great honor," Susan Magnuson said. "To be in the business this long isn't easy ... and to now be recognized as a 100-year operation, it shows a great deal of dedication to agriculture on behalf of the family's older generations."
Susan added that the family remains "in it for the long haul — hopefully another 100 years."
The Centennial Farms program was started in 1986, and Weld County — now with 48 on the list — leads the state in the number of farms and ranches designated.
According to the family, the Magnuson farm was purchased by Fred Magnuson on Nov. 12, 1910.
County records show the purchase was for 98.1 acres, costing $15,000.
For decades, the family raised small grains, sugar beets, alfalfa and pinto beans. They grew potatoes prior to World War II and corn following the war. The family also began feeding lambs on the farm in the 1930s, later feeding cattle, and eventually starting up their own herd.
Today the farm — which includes 233 acres of corn and alfalfa — is operated by Susan Magnuson, along with her sons Jim and Tim, who took over the operation in 2008 after Ted, Susan's husband, died.
"It's unfortunate that our father passed away ... but he and others taught us well," Tim said, explaining that — while the many trying times sit in the past — the present and future have their own challenges, including skyrocketing input costs, more regulations and more difficulty gaining access to needed capital.
"Every generation faces difficulty in agriculture, but we were given a good example of how to keep things going," he said.
Information from: Greeley Daily Tribune, http://greeleytribune.com