Preliminary judging for the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s 2013 “Outstanding Young Farm Family” is complete and three finalists have been named.
The three couples are Shane and Mary Courtney of Shelby County, Jonathan and Jessica Gaskins of Adair County, and Dustin and Tammy White of Union County.
The “Outstanding Young Farm Family” award competition recognizes an individual or couple under age 35 who has exhibited the strongest farm management skills, most consistent financial growth and highest level of involvement in both Farm Bureau and their community.
Shane & Mary Courtney
Shane and Mary Courtney began farming as a family in 2006 after purchasing their first 45 acres of land in Shelby County. With no pre-existing infrastructure on the farm but a strong desire to live on the land, they constructed a barn with live-in quarters to launch their dream.
Today, through a variety of wise financial partnerships and well-timed land and equipment acquisitions, the Courtneys now farm a total of 569.5 acres to raise burley tobacco, corn, soybeans, mixed vegetables, green bell peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash and zucchini, specialty peppers, and seedless watermelons.
Shane and Mary have both served on Shelby County Farm Bureau’s board of directors and regularly volunteer their time to assist with numerous committee responsibilities. The Courtneys are also actively involved and assuming leadership roles in a wide variety of civic and agricultural organizations on both the local and statewide level.
Jonathan & Jessica Gaskins
Jonathan and Jessica Gaskins are both first generation dairy farmers, starting their operation together in 2008, shortly after getting married.
Jonathan, who grew up on a beef cattle and grain crops farm in Adair County, purchased his first 110 acres of farmland and its existing milk parlor in 2005.
Just three years later, the Gaskins quickly acquired and began expanding their herd of dairy cattle. They added equipment, barns and new technologies over the next few years, putting in the time and effort necessary to grow their farm to its current 508-acre size.
They additionally diversified their overall production goals to include corn silage, alfalfa hay, grass hay, soybeans, and corn.
Jonathan and Jessica are both active members of the Adair County Farm Bureau Young Farmer program, serve as Ag Advisory Council Members for the county’s Cooperative Extension Service, and participate in several additional local industry and civic groups.
Dustin & Tammy White
Dustin and Tammy White own and operate part of a 14,118-acre, multi-generational family farm in Union County. Growing up and working on the farm until completing college, Dustin became an official partner and owner of the operation in 2004.
The White family now raises beef cattle, hay, straw, wheat, white and yellow corn, soybeans and seed beans on their ever-expanding farm.
Over the past few years the Whites have made significant land, machinery and technology investments, constructed new grain bins, sheds, barns and other essential facilities, implemented better environmental practices, and continued to increase their herd size and production efficiencies.
Additionally, Dustin is a Union County Farm Bureau board member and chair of the county’s Young Farmer Committee. Both Dustin and Tammy are also actively involved in local and state organizations that further promote agriculture and civic leadership.
Judges visited the three finalists during the last week of September to conduct interviews and see their farms in action. The “Outstanding Young Farm Family” winner will be announced at the organization’s 2013 state annual meeting in Louisville on Dec. 6.
Rewards for winner
In addition to receiving statewide recognition as the 2013 “Outstanding Young Farm Family,” the winner will receive a Case IH Scout courtesy of KFB Insurance and Case IH, an Apple iPad2 from Republic Bank & Trust, $1,000 cash from Premier Crop Insurance, a $750 Dyna-Gro seed voucher from Crop Production Services, a $500 voucher from Southern States Cooperative, a portable handgun safe from Misty Morn Safe Company, and a voucher for 16 bags of seed corn from Pioneer Seed.
The “Outstanding Young Farm Family” will also receive an expense-paid trip to compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) national young farmer contest in San Antonio, TX, in January 2014. Winners of the national contest will have their choice of either a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or a 2014 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, and paid registration to AFBF’s 2014 Young Farmer & Rancher Leadership Conference in Virginia Beach, in February 2014. Each of the three national runners up will receive a Case IH Farmall 65A tractor from Case IH, a $2,500 cash prize and $500 in Stihl merchandise, courtesy of Stihl.
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