Steward of land and crop
For generations, Brian Starkebaum’s family has relied on two things: the land and the wheat crop. That reliance drives his involvement in the Colorado Wheat Association (CWA) and Haxtun Soil Conservation District while running a cow-calf operation and raising corn, millet, white wheat and red wheat near Haxtun, Colo.
Through CWA, Starkebaum’s grandfather completed more than 60 international trade missions, meeting with millers and bakers in Asia and Europe to help them understand U.S. farming practices and discussing food supply needs. Starkebaum’s father followed suit with trips to South America.
More recently, Starkebaum has hosted a handful of international bakers and millers. “It’s through these trade missions that my family learned of the need for white wheat and we began farming the crop,” he says. “We are not only helping to develop the market and create partnerships for wheat farmers, but we are sharing farming practices with producers around the world.”
Starkebaum is president of the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee, which oversees wheat checkoff dollars used for education and research, and includes a partnership with Colorado State University through the Colorado Wheat Research Foundation.
“As wheat farmers, we know what we need, and this partnership allows us to be flexible with the market while giving back to wheat crop development and education,” he says.
Another natural fit for Starkebaum is his role in conservation. As a 20-year member of the Haxtun Soil Conservation District, he’s seen the impact of caring for and advocating for the land.
“Over the past 60 years, conservation districts have changed farming practices and prevented things like another Dust Bowl of the 1930s,” he says. “I got involved because I saw the value of doing things differently and felt it was important to help spread that message.
“I want to be part of the solution,” he adds. “If you’re going to take the time to be involved, be the best member you can be.”
Image courtesy of Colorado Wheat Association
This article appeared as part of the cover story in C magazine. Read the full article for more stories about how others are giving back to their local communities.