There are only twelve days remaining for America to help decide the next faces of agriculture. The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) has identified nine finalists in its Faces of Farming & Ranching program who all have the passion and desire to share more about how they grow and raise food. Consumers and other farmers and ranchers around the country are asked to vote online for their favorites to help choose who will be the winners. The winners will represent all farmers and ranchers and help encourage dialogues around food production questions. More importantly, they will help set the record straight about the way our nation is fed.
Visit www.fooddialogues.com to watch a short video of each finalist’s farm or ranch. The voting will conclude on December 15. These votes will contribute to the total score and help determine the winners.
The finalists are:
- Chris Chinn, Clarence, Mo.: Chris and her husband, Kevin, are fifth generation farmers — farming with his parents and brother. They operate a diversified farming operation including a 1,500 farrow-to-finish hog operation, 60-head cow calf operation and they grow corn, soybean, and hay for their hogs and cattle. The Chinn family has been very progressive in adopting the newest technologies on their farming operation, yet they remain grounded in their values of animal care and land stewardship.
- Will Gilmer, Sulligent, Ala.: Will and his father own and operate a dairy farm in Lamar County, Ala. The dairy has been in continuous operation since Will’s grandfather established it on his parents’ farm in the early 1950’s. They currently milk 200 Holstein cows and raise their own replacement heifers, while managing 600 acres of land used for pasture and forage production. Those forages include hay, summer silage crops, and small grains/ryegrass for both silage and strip grazing.
- Daphne Holterman, Watertown, Wis.: Daphne and her husband, Lloyd are fourth generation farmers. Along with their two daughters, they operate a dairy farm and grow corn for silage and alfalfa for hay on 1,300 acres. In 1981, they started farming with Lloyd’s parents and milked about 80 cows. Today, they milk more than 800 cows and sell milk (made into cheese) as well as Holstein genetics around the world.
- Brenda Kirsch, St. Paul, Ore.: Brenda’s grandfather started this farm more than 60 years ago as a dryland farm. Her father took over in the 1970’s, and Brenda is now being transitioned in to run this 1,000-acre operation. In the last 30 years, irrigation was added to three quarters of their ground. With water and great soil, the farm is very diversified. The farm includes perennial ryegrass, hazelnuts, straw, wheat, green beans, squash, and crimson clover. Products are sold worldwide through farmer-owned co-ops, and other processors and distributors.
- Eric McClam, Columbia, S.C.: Eric is co-founder and owner of City Roots. This 3.5-acre farm in South Carolina includes approximately 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables, bees (not only for honey but for pollination), chickens (not only for eggs, but for the fertility they add to the soil). The farm does extensive crop rotations, cover cropping, and composting for soil fertility and pest management. It produces microgreens year round, grows culinary mushrooms, and operates an aquaponic system which is the combination of aquaculture, the production of commercial fish (tilapia), and hydroponics.
- Tim Nilsen, Wilton, Calif.: Tim is a contract turkey grower in California. Nilsen Farms was established in 1983 by Tim’s father, Norm. The farm has continuously evolved to become one of the most state-of-the-art poultry facilities in the U.S. They have been named “Grower of the Year” from their major customer for seven straight years. With the implementation of modern technology, Nilsen Farms is able to continuously monitor the conditions of the birds automatically.
- Katie Pratt, Dixon, Ill.: Katie and her husband Andy (a seventh generation farmer) raise corn, soybeans and seed corn for a regional family-owned company. Welcoming tour groups to their farm is a family tradition starting back in the early 1970’s when Andy’s grandfather hosted students from Chicago-area schools on his dairy farm. They currently farm in partnership with Andy’s family and have two children.
- Bo Stone, Rowland, N.C.: Bo, his wife Missy, and his parents jointly own P & S Farms. They grow 2,300 acres of row crops (corn, wheat and soybeans). They also have six swine finishing floors on contract (approximately 10,000 hogs annually) and have 60 head beef cattle. They also grow 2.5 acres of strawberries and four acres of sweet corn that are sold at their roadside market. Bo represents the sixth generation to farm their land.
- Janice Wolfinger, Morristown, Ohio: Janice and her husband Jake were both raised on beef/grain farms in Ohio. They built a house on the farm and, wanting something of their own, bought a feed yard in central Nebraska. Janice taught agriculture and welding in Nebraska, and Jake operated the feed yard before moving back to eastern Ohio to buy and manage the cow operation.
In addition to the public vote, a panel of judges from throughout the food and agriculture community interviewed and evaluated the finalists to help determine the “Faces of Farming and Ranching” winners.
Winners will be announced in January 2013 and will share their stories on a national stage through potential media interviews, consumer-facing public appearances and events and advertising campaigns. For their time away from their operation, they will receive a $10,000 stipend as well as a $5,000 donation to their preferred agriculture-related or local charity in their name.
To learn more about USFRA and the “Faces of Farming and Ranching” finalists, visit www.fooddialogues.com.