Gary and Mary Cwach Receive Bob Steffen Pioneer Award

Release Date: 



Wyatt Fraas,, Phone: (402) 254-6893 or Elisha Smith,, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1007
Lyons, NE – On the eve of the Center for Rural Affairs’ MarketPlace: Opening Doors to Success conference held in Columbus, Nebraska on February 27, 2008, Gary and Mary Cwach were honored for their efforts, integrity, and leadership. They received the Center for Rural Affairs’ Bob Steffen Pioneer award.
Gary and Mary have farmed near Yankton, South Dakota, for 30 years. Gary grew up on this farm and has purchased most of it from his father, who still helps around the farm. Mary graduated from Jamestown College with a nursing degree and works at Avera Sacred Heart Health Care in Yankton. They have two sons in college, Dan and Kevin.

“We are deeply honored and it’s a very gratifying experience to be recognized by the Center for Rural Affairs. We’d like to express our appreciation to the Center and we will continue to strive to keep up our pioneer spirit and do our part to revive our rural economies,” commented Gary Cwach.

Alternative approaches are common on the Cwach farm. Gary raises and sells ‘natural’ cattle to several meat companies and to local customers. A local pioneer for alternative crop nutrient management, he is now converting his farm to organic production. He and his oldest son are planning to add fruit and berry crops to provide more income streams to allow the sixth generation to join the farm.

A new marketing group has benefited from Gary’s energy. He was an early, enthusiastic member of Family Farms and Ranches Meats, or FFARM, the multi-state livestock marketing cooperative that the Center for Rural Affairs helped form four years ago. He assumed the cooperative Chair position two years ago and has played a crucial role in the cooperative’s development.

“Gary has been a Center for Rural Affairs supporter for years. Most recently, he has been active in pushing his Congressional representatives toward Farm Bill improvements. Gary has been an example and a teacher to other farmers in his area for new farming practices and working to improve conditions for other family farmers,” said Wyatt Fraas, Assistant Director for the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Opportunities & Stewardship Program. 

Bob Steffen was a pioneer in sustainable agriculture and organic farming. He also helped launch the Center for Rural Affairs.
(Man in second picture is Wyatt Fraas, Center for Rural Affairs)
(Pictures courtesy of Rhea Landholm from Sheldon, IA)

Get The Newsletter?