Editor’s note: This is the second story in a series about Bureau County’s Master Farmers.
PRINCETON — Looking back and reflecting on the memories of years gone by, it’s clear Dick Anson of rural Princeton has always had a love for life in the country.
He grew up on his family farm in Bureau County knowing the country is where he wanted to spend his life. He went off to school and studied agriculture to become more knowledgeable in the farming practices available at the time. In 1956, he began farming for himself, and in 1969, he was selected as a recipient for the Prairie Farmer Master Farmer Award.
When asked about what he believes is his greatest achievement in farming, Anson mentions that Illinois farmers are successful because of the land they live on.
“We’re in a land where the soil productivity is beyond anything found around the world,” he said. “I have a love for the land. It’s always been one that we could depend on for good yields.”
Anson and his wife raised four sons on their farm.
“It was a great place to raise a family. We are very blessed people,” he said.
But with any career, there were struggles met along the way. Anson mentions the costs of operations and weather were his greatest challenges.
“The main thing that helped the weather challenge was that we lived in an area of the country where the weather is a blessing and an asset to us because the soil is rich, well-drained and conductive to the high productivity,” he said.
It’s no secret that technology has played a major role in the enhancements of farming. Having retired many years ago, Anson never had the opportunity to work with the technology advancements and admits he wasn’t even aware of what was in store in the coming years. Looking around today, however, he sees how technology has become an asset to the farming community.
“It’s pretty hard to explain when looking around at what’s offered today because there are so many differences,” he said. “From the magnitude and size of the machinery used today to how much operation costs have risen. The land prices are certainly a big factor, too. Land sells for more than it ever did.”
When thinking about the future of farming, Anson sees the challenge farmers are up against with the large task at hand of feeding an entire country and world.
“My thought is we keep on doing what we’re doing and continue finding more better and economical ways to farm,” he said.
Thinking about the future of family farms, Anson feels they could be in jeopardy, but at the same time believes those who have the resources and capital will continue to maintain ownership of their land.
“I’m quite optimistic about farming. It’s developed and improved in so many ways that whatever the challenge will be in the future, it will be met with efficient farming practices,” he said.
If given the chance to live life as a farmer all over again, Anson is quick to say yes.
“I would do it again, but it would take quite an adjustment of what I knew then and what is available now,” he said.
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