2023 National Outstanding Young Farmers named
Four families were selected from ten finalists as National Outstanding Young Farmers Saturday.
Kyle and Rachel Zweig operate a seventh-generation dairy and crop farm near Ixonia, Wisconsin, where they have completed many conservation projects and converted to 100% no-till. The Zweigs moved to robotic milking in 2020, and have established Delaval’s highest-producing robotic herd in North America, currently producing 114 lbs/cow/day with a combined 8.46 lbs of fat and protein.
Brad and Tara Peacock of Bald Knob, Arkansas grow soybeans, rice, and corn with a focus on conservation. To conserve irrigation water, They use computerized hole selection on all the poly pipe sets to irrigate corn and soybeans. In the rice fields, multiple inlet irrigation is used, and each patty is watered individually. A reservoir, tailwater ditch, and pumping plant with 6,000 feet of pipeline converts 135 acres from salty groundwater to surface water.
Carl Long and Betsy Long farm near Coudersport, Pennsylvania. Carl is a first-generation farmer who started his career while still in high school with an FSA youth loan. He ventured into the potato business, and now ships potatoes to 11 different potato chip factories. He uses contour strips to reduce erosion and rotates the potatoes, green beans, wheat, and oats to improve soil health.
Jon and Amy Hegeman of Anniston, Alabama . Jon grew up as the child of missionaries in the Dominican Republic where he became interested in agriculture, and the Hegemans now operate a 22-acre greenhouse business that supplies major box stores across the southeastern U.S. and the eastern seaboard. Amy operates an equine business, and the couple has diversified into cattle, expanding to her family’s ranch in Texas where they are improving the land with fencing and irrigation.
Six other National Outstanding Young Farmer finalists were also recognized during the awards banquet in Appleton, Wisconsin Saturday.
Andrew and Brooke Birchen of Pearl City, Illinois operate the family dairy farm and grow corn, wheat, and alfalfa. They focus on their 1,700 dairy cows, the farm’s manure management system, soil health, and soil conservation.
Max and Halie Schultz of Bay City Michigan raise hay, corn, and beef, and many of their farm products are sold directly to consumers.
Tracy Schohr and Ryan Imbach farm near Gridley, California raise rice, walnuts, and cattle on a farm her grandfather started in 1910.
Michael and Kassidy Carter of Broxton, Georgia raise broilers, cotton, and peanuts. They utilize cover crops, strip tillage, and other conservation measures, and are expanding the farm with a pecan orchard.
Mike Brooks and Emily McDonough are the eighth generation on the farm near Elmer, New Jersey. They now operate more than 2,000 acres including 27,000 square feet of greenhouse.
Jake and Kyli Stevens farm near Livonia, New York where their original 10 acres and a few animals expanded to a full-time farming career with 1,000 acres of crops, beef, pork, poultry, and produce that is sold through the couple’s farm store.