As long as he can remember, Bruce Pace wanted to be a farmer.
He belonged to 4-H and FFA growing up and showed hogs at the state fair with his brother. By seventh grade, he was actively farming with his father and got into crop farming after high school.
Today, Bruce grows 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans, runs a custom hog feeding facility and oversees a Pioneer seed dealership. The farm, located in Hanska, Minn., about 120 miles south of the Twin Cities, has been in the Pace family since 1911 and is still going strong.
“That’s one of the most important things, the farm has been in our family for a long time,” Bruce said. “I remember working with my grandpa when I was real little and working with my dad later on. It all kind of progressed down the line, working together. Today my kids farm with me.”
Bruce and his wife Julie, daughters Katie and Sarah and son Mike will be honored during halftime of Saturday’s Gophers football game against Western Illinois as the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) Farm Family of the Game. The Farm Family of the Game promotion is part of a larger communications partnership between MCGA and the Gophers to raise awareness of agriculture with non-farmers and the general public.
Bruce has seen a lot of changes in farming over the years. One thing that hasn’t changed is the passion that his mother Elsie still has for getting dirty and working on the farm.
“She still drives the big tractor,” Bruce said. “She’s the one that’s been on the home farm all of her life.”
Elsie has definitely passed her passion for farming onto Bruce. Because he’s so passionate about the farm he grew up on and about agriculture as a whole, Bruce takes conservation seriously. He practices precision agriculture whenever possible, has filter strips on all drainage ditches and has expanded some of his wetlands.
“‘I’ve been proactive in keeping all the soil that I own,” Bruce said. “It’s important that we get out there and make our case to the general public. The big thing out here is tiling. I don’t think people understand how far we’ve come with reducing tiling’s impact on the environment. In the old days, we tried to get the water out as quick as possible. Nowadays, we filter the water before it hits the tile, slowing it down. We’re learning and improving.”
Bruce also credits advancements in technology with improving agricultural practices.
“I’ve always been kind of a nut when it comes to technology stuff,” he said. “I started with it when it first started coming out. If I ever have a problem, all I have to do is ask my kids and they get me through it since they grew up with all the computers.”
Yes, farming today might be different than when Bruce saddled up next to his grandpa on the tractor back when when he was a little kid, but at its core, it hasn’t changed all that much in Bruce’s view.
“Seeing everything from start to finish is what I enjoy,” he said. “When you either plant a seed in the ground or start out a new group of pigs and they have little piglets, they whole cycle of it and trying to figure out how you can improve or do better is what I like best about farming.”
The Gophers play Western Illinois at 11 a.m. Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. The Pace family will be honored before kickoff on the video screen and during a special ceremony at halftime. Come back to minnesotaCORNerstone.com before every Gophers football home game to learn more about that week’s Farm Family of the Game.