rita Herford

When people think about farmers, they frequently imagine the wide-open expanses of American’s breadbasket. And, while much of American farming is indeed found throughout the central states, sugar beet farms are also found well north of the heartland. And they’ve been there for a long time.

Up in Michigan, Rita Herford’s family has been farming sugar beets for five generations, ever since her ancestors emigrated from Germany. Located in the hand-shaped state’s thumb, the current family farm is based near Minden City. Working with her parents, brother and step-brother, Rita also grows corn, soybeans, dry edible beans, and winter wheat. Her husband, Luke, carries on his own family’s farming legacy, raising row crops and beef cattle.

A passion for agriculture took Rita back to the farm, even though that wasn’t her original plan. She attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Crop and Soil Science, with specialization in Agribusiness Management and a certificate in Agricultural Industries. Rita had planned to focus her career on agronomy science and sales, but after a few years in college realized that the farm was where she really wanted to be.

Rita doesn’t simply love farming and helping her family carry on a proud tradition. She also excels at public outreach and communicating about farming and agriculture at local and regional events whenever possible. She also speaks about being a businesswoman, mom to two toddlers and the challenges of the 24-7 work day faced by all farmers.

To that end, Rita currently serves on the Huron County Farm Bureau Board and is on the Promotion and Education Committee, Young Farmers Committee, and the Michigan Farm Bureau Sugar Beet and Dry Bean Committee. She is also a member of the Michigan Sugar Company Young Farmers Program. To round it all off, in 2015 Rita was honored by President Obama as a Champion of Change – one of 11 women celebrated at the White House for empowering change in their communities and motivating others to follow suit.

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