A Jacksonville area farmer has been honored by Prairie Farmer Magazine as one of five Master Farmers for 2020. The award recognizes exceptional agricultural production skills, commitment to family and service to community. Dale Hadden, who started farming in 1987 with his father and grandfather on 315 acres, and now farms on nearly 7000 acres in the area raising corn, soybeans, and cattle with his entire family. He felt truly honored by the award. “Very humbled that a good friend of mine Philip Nelson nominated me for this award for the many years I’ve been working in the community at the state level with the local farm bureau and the NREC organization. I’ve had the opportunity to work with people that were previous winners of the award. I feel that it’s a great honor to be nominated and fortunate enough to win the award. I tell a lot of people it takes a lot of support from the home operation starting with my wife Amy and my children Blake and Paige, my parents and brothers who are all involved in the farm. When I’m gone doing something in the community, they’ve stepped up and filled in when I have to be gone. I’m literally fortunate to have a good supporting cast at home while I’m off serving the farmers and agriculture in West Central Illinois.”
Haddden has seen a lot of diversification over his three decades in agriculture. From selling over 15,000 hay bales and 900 round bales each year to running the family Pioneer seed dealership; the Haddens also believe in educating people about the world of farming. The family hosts near 600 grade school children each year as part of the Agriculture in the Classroom program, a program that his mother started at Salem Lutheran School in the 1980s. Each family member staffs one of 10 interactive learning stations ranging from combines to chickens and other livestock. The Hadden Family also donates many hours to the Morgan County Fair, as well.
Hadden was also recognized for being a good steward to the land. “Conservation was something that I learned as a young child from my father and grandfather. It’s something that I’ve taken to heart. I want to leave the farm in better shape than when I received it – not to say it was in bad shape to begin with. As I’ve acquired new farm ground that maybe needs some attention, I feel fortunate that we are able to provide conservation efforts to it. I’ve learned some lessons and classes over the last couple of decades about how important conservation is and how we always strive to try new methods – whether it’s a different strip-till methods, rotating pastures, or maybe seeding a special grass that prevents run off. Those are all important aspects of what we do when we try to do conservation to the land.”
Hadden along with four others will be honored in Springfield on Thursday, March 19th.