Excellence in Agriculture

Last week, Farmer Doc and I were honored to be named the winners of the Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer Excellence in Ag award. (Yes, it’s a mouthful. It’s also a pretty cool award.)

Marybeth and John at the farmIndiana Farm Bureau photo by Linda McGurk

This award is open to all Young Farmers in the state (35 years and under) who do not make most of their income from production agriculture (a farm), and is based on an extensive application process followed by a presentation and question and answer session with a panel of judges. The application includes county, state, and national Farm Bureau involvement and leadership; leadership and involvement in other agriculture organizations; and other community leadership. Another important part of the application is to explain what we feel are the top 3 issues facing agriculture in the next five years.

Indiana has a great applicant pool for this award every year, and the competition is steep. We know many of the other applicants for this award, and any of them would have made great representatives for our state.

working at the vet clinicIndiana Farm Bureau photo by Linda McGurk

Any of you who know us in real life know that in addition to running a veterinary practice, Farmer Doc and I are heavily involved in our community. Farmer Doc is the county Farm Bureau president and is the Fair Board president this year. He has been on the fair board for 11 years, and loves every minute of it! 4-H was a big part of his life growing up, and this is his way of giving back to the organization that gave so much to him. He is also the Vice President of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, and is slated to be installed as the President at our annual meeting in February.

While I am not so involved in 4-H around here just yet, I do share my passion for agriculture by serving on the Women’s Leadership Committee for Indiana Farm Bureau, at my other blog (AgriCultured), and right here with you on Alarm Clock Wars! I am also involved with the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, serving on the committees that organize our annual meeting and currently helping to facilitate a leadership program for young veterinarians.

Marybeth feeding cowsIndiana Farm Bureau photo by Linda McGurk

Farmer Doc and I also love our local theatre. We both give lots of time and energy to the Gibson County Theatre Company – sometimes on stage and sometimes behind the scenes, but we love every second of it!

As far as the three issues we think agriculture will need to address… They’re not easy ones. First, there are more and more people who do not have any connection with agriculture. People don’t grow their own food anymore, they don’t have a good feeling for how much work goes into growing crops and raising animals, and they don’t understand the technologies that farmers use today. I am trying to address this issue at AgriCultured – providing an “inside look” at what farmers do every day and what it takes to raise food to feed a growing nation.

wheat field1

Second, we are going to need to be able to feed more people with less land. Like it or not, one of the reasons is that some farm land is very attractive to developers. Farm land is being taken out of production to build a new housing development or shopping center to provide shelter and convenience for our growing population. And this population is hungry! Technology is going to be essential in helping farmers be able to grow more crops and raise more animals in less space. I know things like housing pigs in gestation stalls and genetically modified organisms have gotten a lot of bad press, but I think that is primarily because people don’t understand these types of technologies or how they can be beneficial (to the animals and the farmers). I also think that farmers don’t do a very good job at explaining why they are using these techniques. Do you have a specific question? Ask me here (or email me privately), and I’ll do my best to address it on AgriCultured.

Third, animal welfare is a big hot-button issue, and rightly so. Americans have very close relationships with their pets. And this is wonderful! But most Americans have only had any interaction with dogs and cats and see all animals as pets. Even though all of our farm animals are domesticated and would have trouble fending for themselves without our care, they don’t have the same behaviors and attitudes as our house pets. Farmers do care very deeply about their animals, and do their best to take excellent care of their animals. But we just can’t deal with a 1200+ pound cow or a 300 pound pig the same way we would handle a 50 pound dog or a 7 pound cat. We need to do a better job sharing how we take care of our animals, and why we do things this way. I’m not saying that every farmer or every housing system is perfect. But we have changed our ways of animal housing and handling to be better for the animals (and a little for ourselves).

dairy cows at feeder

As part of this award, Farmer Doc and I will travel to Nashville in January to represent Indiana in the American Farm Bureau Excellence in Ag competition. We also received a commemorative plaque from Indiana Farm Bureau, a monetary award from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, and will receive a John Deere Gator from Farm Credit Services of Mid-America. (We’re going shopping later this week!) Thank you so much to the sponsors, to the judges, and to Indiana Farm Bureau.

We are very honored and proud to join the ranks of Indiana farmers who have won this award in the past. We are looking forward to being able to better spread our agriculture story!

  • Dani Vello

    Congratulations! I’m sure that everyone (including me!) is very proud and impressed with all of your hard work. And thank you for helping educate people (myself included) about our food and where it comes from. Yay!!! :)

  • Midwest Farm Girl

    Congratulations to you both!! This is a huge accomplishment!! Have fun shopping for a new Gator; can’t wait to see pics!!