The Todd County Soil and Water Conservation District will honor Jim Waldorf as Conservation Farmer of the Year during its awards luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 14.

Waldorf enrolled two parcels of land, totaling 74 acres, into the Minnesota Conservation Reserve Enhancement program. The land will be permanently protected through a perpetual easement with the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) easement program.

The program will restore up to five wetland basins that were previously drained and farmed. The remaining land will be returned back to native grasses and wildflowers. Aside from enrolling the parcels into MNCREP, Waldorf manages a rotational cropping system with minimal tillage.

Waldorf grew up on a small dairy operation in Gordon Township, just a few miles down the road from where he currently lives and farms, just east of Osakis. He is a father of two and is married to Lynette. Jim is an active member in the local communities. He has been an auctioneer for more than 25 years and his wife, Lynette, is a paraprofessional with the Osakis school district.

Jim is a strong supporter of the local FFA chapter. He was a member and both of his children were members while growing up.

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“I want to keep them (FFA) going," Jim said in a news release issued by the Todd County Soil and Water Conservation District. "If we don’t keep the children involved in farming, who’s going to do it?”

Jim also participates in tractor rides for local benefit events whenever he can.

Jim got started on his own farm back in the late 1970s. He had just purchased a farm and 50 acres when he got laid off from his construction job. He started milking 11 head of dairy and farming 40 acres of grain to use as feed. He worked his way up to milking 20 head of cattle and got to the point where it was time to either expand the dairy operation or adapt to a new farming style.

He bought an additional 110 acres, started renting land and transitioning into a beef and cash crop operation. Through the years he was able to purchase additional land and build the operation. At the peak, Jim was farming approximately 1,000 acres of cash crop and hay ground while managing a 30 head herd of beef.

Jim and his children managed the farm along with some assistance from his brother.

Jim has since downsized his operation. He currently farms 140 acres of cash crop and hay ground. He no longer manages any cattle. His vision for the future of the farm is to continue maintaining his hay and cash crop land.

His son is interested in purchasing the farm and working into his own operation. When asked why he enrolled the two parcels of land into the program, Jim said, “I believed it was a good program. The payments were good and the land was marginal. I want to give the wildlife a place too. It may not fit for everything [every situation], but it was a fit for these acres and where I’m at with my operation.”