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Chris and Rebekah Pierce named Kentucky Farm Bureau 2014 Outstanding Young Farm Family

 

Kentucky Farm Bureau

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Chris and Rebekah Pierce of Pulaski County were honored as Kentucky Farm Bureau’s 2014 “Outstanding Young Farm Family” during the organization’s 95th annual meeting in Louisville. Each year KFB awards this distinction to a 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 the community.

 

In addition to receiving statewide recognition as the newest “Outstanding Young Farm Family,” the Pierces won a Case IH Scout courtesy of KFB Insurance and Case IH, an Apple iPad 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, and a voucher for 12 bags of seed corn from Pioneer Seed. They also received an expense-paid trip to compete in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national young farmer contest next month in San Diego, Calif.

 

Winners of the AFBF national contest will take home their choice of either a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado or a 2015 GMC Sierra, courtesy of General Motors, and a paid registration to the 2015 Young Farmer & Rancher Leadership Conference in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 13-16, 2015. Three national runners-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 65A tractor, courtesy of Case IH, a $2,500 cash prize and $500 in STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.

The “Outstanding Young Farm Family” second-place distinction went to Dustin and Tammy White of Union County, and third place winners were Zack and Tiffany Ison of Mercer County.

Chris & Rebekah Pierce

Chris and Rebekah Pierce have a row crop operation of more than 3,400 acres, with most of it on leased land. They own 328 acres on two tracts.

The couple met 14 years ago at the University of Kentucky, where Chris earned a degree in agricultural economics and Rebekah received a degree in interior design. Chris purchased his first parcel of farmland in Pulaski County in 2003 while still studying at UK and began his full-time farming operation in 2007. Rebekah worked as an interior designer until the birth of the second of their four children, then joined Chris at home to raise a family and help manage the farm office.

In addition to farming, Chris also has an off-farm job teaching young farmer classes at a community college. He is very active with Farm Bureau, an advisor to the local Young Farmer Association, and a member of the Farm Service committee and the County Agricultural Development Council.

This year Chris produced more than 1,550 acres of corn, 900 acres of soybeans, 800 acres of wheat, and 100 acres of canola. He also had 691 acres of cover crops as part the National Soil Health Movement.

“Through the use of cover crops, we have raised soil fertility by fixing nitrogen and scavenging potassium, phosphorus, and micro-nutrients,” he said. “The cover crop residue acts as a natural barrier for weeds, which lowers our use of herbicides. The residue also acts as a moisture barrier.”

The overall goal, he added, is “to leave the land better than we found it.”

Like many farmers, Chris also trades goods and services with his colleagues.

“We often trade custom planting, spraying, harvesting, trucking and other farm services for like service and labor,” he explained. “The biggest reason we take this approach is to establish close friendships and business trust that will provide labor opportunities. Our goal is to be a community member, not a competitor.”

With no grain elevators within 120 miles, the Pierces have had to be innovative marketers of their crops. They built storage to handle about 75 percent of their production. They sell corn to buyers in seven states who use it for animal feed, pet food and ethanol. Canola is sold directly to a family company in a neighboring state. He also has big plans for the future.

“We are always seeking to expand the farming business,” he said. “We want to purchase more land and expand our grain storage capacity. As trucking becomes more of a necessity, building a shop to house semi trucks is a goal.”

Rebekah takes care of the family and the farm office, where she handles the bookkeeping and recordkeeping. The couple has four children, ages 8, 7, 4 and 1, and lives near the Science Hill community in the central section of Pulaski County.

Dustin & Tammy White

Dustin and Tammy White, the contest’s second-place finishers, own and operate part of a 13,987-acre, multi-generational family farm in Union County. The White family raises beef cattle, hay, straw, wheat, white and yellow corn, soybeans, and seed beans. Dustin is also a Union County Farm Bureau board member and chair of the county’s Young Farmer Committee. The Whites were also finalists in KFB’s 2013 “Outstanding Young Farm Family” award competition.

The Whites’ second-place finish earned them 250 hours free use of a Kubota tractor, an Apple iPad from Republic Bank & Trust, $750 cash from Premier Crop Insurance, a $500 Dyna-Gro seed voucher from Crop Production Services, a $300 voucher from Southern States Cooperative, and a voucher for eight bags of seed corn from Pioneer Seed.

Zack & Tiffany Ison

Zack and Tiffany Ison, the competition’s third-place finishers, farm a total of 1,350 acres in Mercer County. They grow alfalfa, corn, hay, soybeans and tobacco and maintain pastureland for their herd of feeder cattle and cow-calf pairs. Zack and Tiffany both serve on the Mercer County Farm Bureau board of directors and regularly volunteer their time to assist with and lead numerous committees. Zack is also a member of KFB’s recently graduated Leadership Enhancement for Agricultural Development class.

For their third-place finish, the Isons won 100 hours free use of a New Holland tractor, an Apple iPad from Republic Bank & Trust, $500 cash from Premier Crop Insurance, a $250 Dyna-Gro seed voucher from Crop Production Services, a $200 voucher from Southern States Cooperative, and a voucher for six bags of seed corn from Pioneer Seed.