October 20, 2014

Lincoln Township farm awarded for conservation practices

Steinbauer Farms, Inc: Conservation Farm of the Year

Tim Barnum
Arenac County Conservation District Chairman Tim Hagley, far left, awards Linda and Earl Steinbauer with the Conservation Farmer of the Year award during the annual district meeting on Feb. 19 at the Saganing Tribal Center in Standish Township.
By Tim Barnum|Staff writer
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LINCOLN TOWNSHIP — At the annual meeting of the Arenac County Conservation District, one of the most anticipated moments of the night is the recognition of the Conservation Farmer of the Year. This year, on Feb. 19 at the Saganing Tribal Center, Earl and Linda Steinbauer received the award for environmentally conscious farming practices.

Tim Hagley, chairman of the conservation district, said Steinbauer Farms, Inc. practices no-till farming, and uses Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) filter strips and field windbreaks.

“I became aware of these practices when I was on the FFA board,” Earl said, adding he began to implement CREP practices approximately five years ago and doing no-till even earlier. “We plant all our wheat with no-till. We’ve had pretty good luck with it.

“I think that most farmers, 99 percent of them, don’t want to pollute. We are as conservative as we can be.”

Earl says out of the approximately 500 acres farmed by the Steinbauers, 270 are actually owned by them and all 270 of those are either no-till, CREP enrolled or both.

He says now, Steinbauer Farms is solely crops, but that wasn’t always the case.

“We started out as a dairy farm and then we went to hogs,” Earl said, adding they later sold the hogs to focus on crops, mostly beans. He also says he purchased his first farm in 1965, next to one owned by his father, on Irwin Road in Lincoln Township, and then expanded when he purchased his father’s farm in 1976.

And since Earl has been farming in the 60’s, his wife Linda, whom he married in 1964, has been a part of the success.

“She used to help side by side in the fields, but anymore we let her do the bookwork and be grandma for the grandkids,” he said.

“I don’t mind doing the paperwork and I love watching the grandkids grow up,” Linda added.

She says the night of the award presentation, a grandchild was actually competing in an FFA competition, and she and Earl both wanted to watch their grandchild, but since she knew they were receiving the award, she had to steer her husband towards the annual meeting without letting him in on the secret.

“I had to make sure that I got Earl there because we had some other things going on,” Linda said. “I talked about going to the (Standish-Sterling Middle School) talent show or the FFA thing to make it sound like I wasn’t going to the dinner so he would go.”

Linda’s ability to keep a secret paid off and both Steinbauers were in attendance. Earl says he had no idea his farm would be named Conservation Farmer of the Year.

However, when Hagley gave a brief biography before announcing the winner, Earl no doubt realized it was his farm when a story was shared about he and Linda moving their wedding date up two weeks to compensate for the annual bean harvest.

“She (Linda) had planned the wedding for the end of September and we moved it up to the middle of September, but that’s usually the time we did the bean harvest, so we moved it up to Sept. 5,” Earl said. “We got married and went on our honeymoon and came back and went right back to work.”

Fortunately for Earl, Linda’s reaction wasn’t what one might expect from a bride-to-be busily preparing for a wedding.

“I was young and in love so I guess it didn’t matter,” Linda said.

Earl and Linda have two children, son Dennis Steinbauer and daughter Melisa Pritchard. They also had a third child who is deceased.

Earl has served on the Farm Service Agency County Committee, Lincoln Township Board of Review, Arenac County Farm Bureau, Arenac County Farm Board; he is the current president of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church Congregation and a member of the Standish Lions Club.

Linda has served on the Arenac County Fair Board, Jaycees, is a current member of the Standish Lions Club and also volunteers at St. Mary’s of Michigan Standish Hospital.

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