The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Business & Technology

April 18, 2014

Local farmers honored

DES MOINES — Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has announced that Marty and Michael Burken who run Blue Hyll Dairy in rural Clinton County have been named the April winners of the “Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award.”

Northey will present the award to the Burken family on Wednesday, April 23 at Rastrelli’s restaurant, 238 Main Ave., in Clinton. The “Big Show,” which airs on both WHO and WMT radio, will broadcast live from the presentation from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on April 23.

“It is great to be able to recognize dairy farmers like Marty and Michael Burken who are innovative leaders who do things right in caring for their animals and the land while also serving their community,” Northey said.

Marty and Michael are brothers who run Blue Hyll Dairy along with the help of Marty’s daughters, Hannah, Haley and Hillary. They milk 810 cows and raise 170 dairy beef steers and have a compost business. They also raise row crops.

Blue Hyll Dairy is a leader in conservation and sustainability, receiving many awards for its water recycling and composting efforts, including receiving one of the inaugural Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Awards at the 2012 Iowa State Fair.

The farm composts 1,600 tons of solid manure each year and markets this compost, selling approximately 200 tons annually to local gardening enthusiasts, landscapers, and even competitive pumpkin growers.

In addition to their work on the farm, the Burken family is very active in their community. They have hosted an open house that drew more than 2000 people and give regular tours of their farm to school groups.

The Burkens were nominated for the award by Chris Freland, who is manager of industry relations for the Midwest Dairy Association and also a friend of the family.

The Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award, made possible through the financial support of the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take pride in doing things right. This includes caring for the environment and their livestock and being good neighbors. It is named in memory of Gary Wergin, a long-time WHO Radio farm broadcaster who helped create the award.

Anyone interested in nominating their neighbor for the award should write a letter or e-mail explaining why their neighbor should receive this designation. Applications may be submitted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Attn: Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award, Henry A. Wallace Building, Des Moines, IA 50319 or emailed to Communications@iowaAgriculture.gov.

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