Four well-deserving Young Farmers who competed with 12 other contestants in four categories – Agriculture Achievement, Excellence in Agriculture, Agriculture Leader and Agriculture Employee – have been announced as winners of Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) 2020 Young Farmer Awards.
Every year Michigan’s best young farmers, ages 18-35, face off in categories geared toward measuring their agricultural involvement, leadership and achievements.
“Our Young Farmer Award winners are a who’s-who of young, passionate agriculture leaders who take time to give back through service to the agricultural organizations that work to support Michigan’s food and farm sector,” said Megan Sprague, manager of MFB’s Young Farmer department.
“With more than 45 highly-qualified contestants vying for awards this year, these finalists exemplify the hardworking, committed, passionate character of Michigan agriculture.”
Agriculture Achievement Award winner
TERRY PAGE raises 2,600 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa in Ionia County alongside his father. They supply custom forage harvesting to eight dairy farms and custom harvesting for three local crop farms.
“My agricultural career started in my youth as a tag-a-long beside my father and grandfather, but my first ‘real’ experience came when I had the opportunity to rent land from two of my neighbors in high school,” Page said.
“With the income from this acreage, I was able to pay for seed, usage of equipment, other harvest and planting expenses and feed for my farrow to finish operation. My dream was always to be a partner in the family business established in 1949 by my grandfather, and in 2008, this dream came true and I was made a 40% partner.
“My plans focus on the need to keep the business productive and adaptable to market trends. At this point in time, this means expanding for the foreseeable future.”
Terry and his wife, Jody, have two boys, Gavin and Garret.
The Agriculture Achievement Award recognizes a successful young Farm Bureau member or married couple for outstanding achievement in the business of farming and leadership in the agricultural community. Applicants are judged on their farm management ability and involvement in Farm Bureau and other organizations.
As the state winner, Page receives a lease on a Kubota tractor, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate, and an all-expense paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, in January 2021 to compete in the Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award national competition, sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
Excellence in Agriculture Award winner
KATELYN THOMPSON works as a farm, ranch and equine underwriter for American Reliable Insurance Company, in addition to raising beef cattle and running a metal design and fabrication business in Eaton County.
“As an underwriter of farm insurance, I determine if a risk is a good fit for our company,” Thompson said. “More importantly it’s about making sure that if a farmer has a debilitating loss that their policy has the necessary coverage to put the pieces back together.
“As a 4-H leader I work with youth and their parents to gain a better understanding of livestock production and how to raise a profitable project in terms of learning and financially,” she continued.
“As a volunteer and member in non-ag organizations, I look for opportunities to incorporate agriculture to help bridge the three- to four-generation gap of agriculture familiarity in our population. From planning a promotion and education event at my local zoo in their farm yard area, to focusing Toastmaster speeches on my agriculture interests, I advocate for agriculture in all facets of my life.”
Thompson lives in Charlotte and serves on the Eaton County Farm Bureau board of directors.
The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers (individuals or married couples) who do not derive most of their income from a personally owned agricultural operation but who actively contribute to and grow through their involvement in Farm Bureau and agriculture.
As the state winner, Thompson receives a three-month lease of a Michigan CAT Skidsteer, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate, and an all-expense paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, in January 2021 to compete in the Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award national competition, sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
Agriculture Leader Award winner
KATELYN PACKARD is a Washtenaw County dairy farmer, milking 400 cows and raising 800 acres of corn, alfalfa, wheat, soybeans and forage crops with her grandparents, parents, brother and husband.
“My leadership activity over the past five years includes involvement on multiple county Farm Bureau committees and events, and involvement with 4-H,” Packard said.
“In 2018, I brought a new idea to our county Promotion and Education committee to host an agriculture themed trick-or-treat event,” she added. “The event grew into our now annual ‘Treat of Agriculture.’ It’s a trick-or-treat event featuring Michigan agriculture products. Instead of handing out candy, as is traditional, we hand out various agriculture products at various interactive stations.”
Packard said she’s implemented a farm open house, inviting neighbors to the farm to have some ice cream.
“It’s a great community builder, not just around where the farm is, but where I live, three miles from the farm,” Packard said. “It’s helped to not only get to know my neighbors but create greater understanding about agriculture. I also enjoy being a 4-H leader as it gives me an opportunity to share my passion for dairy and agriculture with youth.
“I continue to build the 4-H dairy project in our county,” she continued. “I offer our farm and our cattle to 4-H members who don’t have their own cattle to use for their dairy project. Last year, I had two individuals use cattle from my farm for their dairy project, and this year I anticipate having six youth take advantage of this opportunity.”
Packard and her husband, Joe, live in Manchester.
The Agriculture Leader Award recognizes successful young farmers for outstanding leadership roles in Farm Bureau, agriculture, and his or her local community. Contestants are judged on their ability to actively serve in leadership roles while managing a successful farm operation.
As the state winner, Packard receives a lease on a New Holland compact tractor or utility vehicle from Burnips Equipment, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate, and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF FUSION Conference in Portland, Oregon, sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
Agriculture Employee Award winner
TERA BAKER works as a North American sales manager of livestock products for Topcon Positioning Systems.
“Topcon is a global company supplying technology solutions to the medical, construction, survey, and agricultural industries,” Baker said. “Specific to agriculture, we have the most diverse portfolio in the precision ag space, with solutions spanning from livestock weighing and feeding, to yield monitoring components for combines, auto steering and geo positioning for any field equipment, to rate controlling components for spreaders and sprayers, and much more machine side electronics.
“We also have software and cloud-based solutions to use in conjunction with the machine controls for farm business planning, monitoring and forecasting to leverage the ‘Internet of Things’ for farm business profitability.”
Baker’s work at Topcon’s allowed her to become to farmers.
“When I first started with Topcon, I worked specifically with the animal feeding software in service and support to farmers using it on a daily basis,” she said. “Today, I’m a sales manager for the entire livestock product business including animal weighing and near infrared solutions for feed quality testing. In this role, I’m responsible for sales of all animal products for North America and manage some strategic international accounts in Africa and the Middle East as well.”
Tera and her husband, Shawn, reside in Three Oaks, Berrien County.
The Agriculture Employee Award recognizes young farmers’ contributions as employees to the success and long-term profitability of the operations which employed them. Nominees are also judged on their leadership involvement in Farm Bureau, agriculture and their community.
As the state winner, Baker receives $5,000 off the first payment of a lease or installment on a 100-horsepower or larger tractor from GreenMark Equipment, a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate, and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF FUSION Conference in Portland, Oregon, sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.
All award finalists will receive a Michigan Farm Bureau jacket. Award finalists also receive a $400 cash prize from the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.