Today, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance announced that four winners have been selected as the winners of its Faces of Farming & Ranching program, a nationwide search launched in summer 2012 to help put real faces on the American agriculture industry. More than 100 applications were submitted from passionate, dedicated farmers and ranchers across the country.
The winners will act as national spokespeople, and will share stories and experiences on a national stage to help answer consumers' questions about how food is grown and raised to feed our nation. The winners are:
· Katie Pratt and her husband, Andy (a seventh generation farmer), currently farm in partnership with Andy's family. They raise corn, soybeans and seed corn for a regional family-owned company. They welcome tour groups to their farm as part of a family tradition, which started back in the early 1970s. (See below for Katie's video)
· Chris Chinn and her husband Kevin, are fifth generation farmers - farming with his parents and brother. They raise 1,500 pigs on their farm, and 60 head of cattle in addition to growing corn, soybeans, hay and rye.
· Will Gilmer and his father own and operate a dairy farm, which has been in continuous operation since Will's grandfather established it in the early 1950s. They currently milk 200 Holstein cows and raise their own replacement heifers, while managing 600 acres of land used for pasture and forage production.
· Bo Stone jointly owns P&S Farms with his parents and wife, Missy. They grow 2,300 acres of row crops, raise approximately 10,000 pigs annually and have 60 cows. They also grow 2.5 acres of strawberries and 4 acres of sweet corn to sell at their own roadside market. Bo represents the sixth generation to farm their land.
"The four winners selected are passionate about farming and ranching, and eager to share their stories about the innovative ways they continue to improve food production each day," said Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "There are a lot of misconceptions and questions among consumers about how food gets from the farm to our tables. These four individuals are equipped with the passion and experience necessary to address these complicated issues and give honest answers."
From Nov. 15 - Dec. 15, 2012, thousands visited www.fooddialogues.com to learn more about the candidates and to vote for whom they believed best represented American agriculture. 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 winners of Faces of Farming & Ranching. Criteria included the ability and commitment to share their stories about continuous improvement; involvement with the community and agricultural organizations; strong speaking capabilities, and a passion for what they do.
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance consists of more than 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners, including the National Corn Growers Association, representing virtually all aspects of agriculture working to engage in dialogues with consumers who have questions about how today's food is grown and raised. USFRA is committed to continuous improvement and supporting U.S. farmers and ranchers efforts to increase confidence and trust in today's agriculture.