(Photo by Jill Bock, Staff)
NEW MADRID - Whether working for others or on his own land, Milus Wallace has made conservation a priority. That dedication earned Wallace and his wife, Wanda, the title of Farmer of the Year from the New Madrid County Soil and Water Conservation District for 2008.
"I have known a lot of conservationists over the years but none more deserving," said Kevin Carlisle, chairman of the New Madrid County SWCD, prior to the award presentation. "He is a model to go by."
Carlisle called the Wallaces firm believers in being good stewards of the land. "This is seen in their commitment and effort to support and assist with conservation programs offered by the many different agencies," said Carlisle.
According to Carlisle, the Wallaces have sought advice from state and federal agencies and the University Extension to improve natural resources for water quality, wildlife and the environment on their 1,400-acres of land which they farm on the east side of New Madrid County.
They have participated in such programs as the Missouri Department of Conservation Idle Land and LAWS programs for improving wildlife habitat as well as the Conservation Reserve Program for soil erosion control, wildlife habitat and water quality improvement. Also they have used the NRCS Conservation Security Program which supports all land use practices including no-till farming, irrigation efficiency, crop rotation and wildlife habitat improvement.
Wallace served on the Mississippi County SWCD Board from 1984 to 1996. Since 1983, he has served as a private contractor installing drop pipe structures for landowners in New Madrid and Mississippi counties. From 1986 until present he has provided tree planting and wildlife grass seeding services to landowners participating in the Conservation Reserve Program and Conservation Security Program.
Prior to the award presentation, Tommy Bradley, the SWCD board treasurer, noted this is the 54th year for the district in New Madrid. The participation by landowners in New Madrid County in 2007 in being good land stewards brought in $12.5 million, Bradley said.
Chris Grojean with the Farm Service Agency was the evening's guest speaker. He discussed various government programs available in New Madrid County to enhance the environment, including the State Areas for Wildlife Enhancement, which seeks to restore at-risk species to Southeast Missouri.
In pointing out the many programs available, Grojean added: "(Americans) pay 4 percent less on average than any other nation for food. We like to think we have a part in keeping that cheap and dependable food supply."