For the first time ever, as far as anyone knows, the Indiana Farm Management Association annual tour will visit extreme northern Indiana this summer. It's the first time that farms in LaGrange and Elkhart Counties have been featured on the tour.
This year's tour is set for June 30 and July 1, notes Alan Miller, the Purdue University ag economist who heads up the tour each year. It's a driving tour that begins at 1 p.m. the first day, and concludes about 4 p.m. the last day.
"The emphasis is on farm management," Miller says. "We like to use this tour as an opportunity to teach folks about various aspects of management."
That doesn't mean there won't be other items of interest on these farms, however. At each of five farms slated for the tour, there will be a general interview with the host family. Then visitors can select from one of three to four special break-out programs. Typically, those breakout programs feature something of interest on that farm, say grain storage or woodlot management.
Four of this year's farms have livestock as part of the operation. However, it is a major part of the business on only two of the five farms. Other operations that will be highlighted on the tour feature some other means of putting excess labor to use and generating more income for family living,
Farms include R.D. Wolheter, a grain farm near Wolcottville; Perkins farms, with dairy and sizable crop acreage, Stroh; Crystal Valley Dairy, a 400-cow dairy operated by partners who aren't blood relatives, Middlebury; Yoder popcorn farm, featuring a retail popcorn outlet on the farm, LaGrange; and Lord's Seeds, a seed corn growing operation, Howe.
More information about times and locations of the farms will be available soon. Extension offices around the state will have information on the tour, including maps of how to find various locations.