The DeSutter family of Woodhull is honored as the 2012 Illinois Farm Family of the Year at the University of Illinois Salute to Agriculture. The award is presented by Burrus Hybrids and Illinois AgriNews. Pictured (from left) are Rae Ann, Larry and Madeline DeSutter kneeling and standing Burrus Hybrids regional sales manager Dick Burns; Kristin and Susie DeSutter; Illinois AgriNews executive editor James Henry; and Matthew, Randy, Levi, Maurice, Jim, Darlene, Drew, Melanie, Dana, Charlene, Mike, Jayne and John DeSutter. Not pictured are Kim and Nathan DeSutter and John, Emily, Connor and Lauren Kittell.
The DeSutter family of Woodhull is honored as the 2012 Illinois Farm Family of the Year at the University of Illinois Salute to Agriculture. The award is presented by Burrus Hybrids and Illinois AgriNews. Pictured (from left) are Rae Ann, Larry and Madeline DeSutter kneeling and standing Burrus Hybrids regional sales manager Dick Burns; Kristin and Susie DeSutter; Illinois AgriNews executive editor James Henry; and Matthew, Randy, Levi, Maurice, Jim, Darlene, Drew, Melanie, Dana, Charlene, Mike, Jayne and John DeSutter. Not pictured are Kim and Nathan DeSutter and John, Emily, Connor and Lauren Kittell.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Honored during the Salute to Agriculture at the University of Illinois, the DeSutter family now is the Illinois Farm Family of the Year.

Maurice and Darlene DeSutter received the award along with their adult children — sons Randy, Jim, Larry and Mike and daughter Jayne — and their families:

* Randy and his wife, Susie, have two children, Matthew and Kristin;

* Jim and his wife, Kim, have three children, Drew, Levi and Dana;

* Mike and his wife, Melanie, have three children, Charlene, John and Madeline;

* Larry and his wife, Rae Ann, have one child, Nathan; and

* Jayne and her husband, John Kittell, have three children, Emily, Connor and Lauren.

The annual award has been presented by Burrus Hybrids and Illinois AgriNews for 14 years. It honors an outstanding Illinois family for contributions on and off the farm and is aimed at increasing awareness of the important contributions farm families make to everyone’s daily life.

Three generations currently work on DeSutter Farms. The farm started in the early 1900s, when Maurice DeSutter Sr. emigrated from Belgium.

Maurice Jr. and his sons, Randy, Jim and Mike, and Randy’s son, Matthew, and Jim’s son, Drew, now work on the 5,000-acre farm in Woodhull.

“The DeSutters are a great example of a family operation that has grown and expanded with an eye on the future generation of farmers in their family,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson, who nominated the family for the award.

“The DeSutters have been an outstanding Illinois farm family of four generations. Over the years, they have successfully grown their farming operation.”

Maurice’s other two children, Larry and Jayne, own some of the farm and rent it back to the family. Larry is the county executive director for the Farm Service Agency in Macon County, and Jayne is a former county Farm Bureau manager in Grundy County.

Working together as a family makes DeSutter Farms much more viable and efficient. Having more than one generation involved brings both experience and new ideas into the operation.

The DeSutters have incorporated technology and conservation practices into their farming operation to improve their stewardship of the land.

They utilize no-till on 100 percent of their land to reduce soil erosion. Precision farming practices limit the amount of fertilizer, seed and herbicides they use.

Grid sampling allows them to variable rate fertilize only where it is needed. And swath control on the planter and the sprayer reduces overlap on seed and chemicals.

The DeSutters also care about their community, Nelson stressed.

“What truly sets the DeSutters apart is the extent of their involvement in supporting their community, church, farm and commodity organizations,” he said. “The DeSutters are a great example of a farm family giving back to their community and the industry of agriculture for the benefit of everyone else.”

Members of the family have served on church, school, Farm Bureau and FS boards, as well as the Jaycees, the Illinois Beef Association, the Illinois FFA Foundation, the 4-H Federation, the Illinois Soybean Association and many, many more.

Randy, in particular, was elected to the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Alumni Board of Directors in December. He graduated from the university with a degree in agricultural economics in 1979.

He noted his family attended the U of I’s Salute to Agriculture last year, when his daughter was recognized for winning the Orion Samuelson Scholarship in Agriculture.

“I want to encourage anybody out there to nominate a neighbor or a friend for next year because Illinois agriculture really mostly is family farms and a lot of the public doesn’t realize that,” he said. “It’s nice to win, but I think it just points out that Illinois is still run by family farms.”