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Innovative Farmer Dedicates Years to Improving the Land

JerryCrawfordSits1When Jerry Crawford began purchasing land in 1971, it cost $100 an acre. Labor on a tractor equated to $15 an hour, which now averages $120/hour. For 30 years, Crawford has been purchasing land and tending to his cattle operation in Holmes County. He strives to constantly improve his operation through invested funds, labor, and time.

As a young adult, Crawford spent many years in the northern region of the United States and would occasionally travel south. After serving 3 years, 4 months, and 28 days in the US Army, to be exact, he accepted employment with the transit bus system in Chicago. On Friday evenings, he would catch a train headed south, come to his farm in Mississippi, work through Saturday, and catch the train back to Chicago on Sunday. CrawfordJacksonHay

After a 25 year career with the bus system, Crawford decided to make farming his full-time job. He raises commercial Angus cows and produces hay.

Crawford had issues with erosion due to a number of small gulleys on his property. He also needed separate grazing cells with adequate water supply for his cattle. After contacting the USDA/Natural Resources Conservation Service, he was able to receive technical and financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

“Mr. Crawford, with our assistance, has built cross fences and also ponds to give the livestock adequate water sources. Ponds can also double as a grade stabilization structure, which prevents erosion,” said Palmer Brock, Supervisory District Conservationist in Holmes and Humphries Counties.

CrawfordBrockWalk1Crawford’s ponds are buffered with a grass source to slow the speed of water across the soil. This process creates clean water sources, and also decreases the chance for erosion because the water flows into the pond without soil and sediment.

Even before NRCS adopted the practice of implementing livestock fountains, Mr. Crawford was a pioneer in utilizing the practice. This ball operated trough provides fresh, clean water to livestock. He was also one of the first farmers to adopt rotational grazing in Holmes County.

“Mr. Crawford has involved himself in nutrient management and pest management. He has a place conducive to wildlife and pollinators,” said Walter Jackson, State Agronomist and Grazing Land Specialist.

“He’s a trailblazer and he’s looking forward every day for something new and innovative that he can do on his farm and also demonstrate to other farmers in a StrikeForce county like Holmes County that it can be done on their lanCrawfordCows1d," said Jackson.

CrawfordLooksAtFarmMr. Crawford is working daily to continue to improve his operation and uses a motto he learned while in Boy Scouts, "Be Prepared." He strives to always be ready for uncontrollable circumstances by buying quality cattle and growing more hay than needed as a means of security.

He is thankful for NRCS in providing him with the necessary tools to pursue his visions.

“I couldn’t afford it on my own and NRCS gave me the resources to improve my farm. I’m very thankful to them,” said Crawford.





Story By: Candace Chambers, NRCS Public Affairs