Two Indiana couples (video interviews below) will represent Hoosier farmers in San Antonio at the American Farm Bureau annual convention which kicks off this weekend. Nick and Julie Wenning of Decatur County won the Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture award. The award is given to young farmers who do not derive the majority of their income on the farm but who are actively involved in Indiana Farm Bureau and agriculture.
Julie is a high school math teacher and Nick owns Wenning Excavating, but they’re involved in the family farm too.
“We have a small row crop operation and farm with my dad and my aunt,” Nick told HAT. “We also have a shrimp farm, so we’re raising fresh water prawn here in Indiana. So that had a little bit to do with our award, I think. It’s something different, a niche market that can really get people from the city to come out to our farm and experience what we’ve got.”
LaPorte County’s Matt and Kristen Schafer are the winners of the Young Farmer Achievement Award for those who do derive the majority of their income from the farm. They told HAT the application process for the contest helped put the farm’s growth in the last decade in perspective.
“Anytime you put something down on paper it allows you the opportunity to dissect all the details, and even for me still learning a lot about the operation coming from a complete non farming background, it helped me learn even more of the intricacies of the operation,” said Kristen.
The growth came about after implementing horizontal wells which allowed the Schafers to diversify beyond their 1,900 acres of mostly corn and soybeans.
“We’ve got a pretty high water table but still kind of droughty ground, but conventional wells don’t work real well,” Matt explained. “So this new technology allowed us to expand our irrigation from practically nothing to over 2,500 acres now. That unlocked the possibilities of seed corn, some vegetable crops and a lot of other things that helped us diversify and continue growing.”
The state YFAA winner receives a $6,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance; 250 hours maximum free use of one M-Series tractor (and loader, if appropriate) courtesy of Kubota Tractor Corporation; the David L. Leising Memorial Award; and expenses paid to the 2014 national convention.
The Indiana YFEA winner receives a John Deere Gator (cash value: $8,000) courtesy of Farm Credit Services; $3,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance; and expenses paid to the 2014 national convention in San Antonio, Texas.
Meet the Wenning’s:
Meet the Schafer’s: