Furnish Family Earns National Accolades
Through Hard Work and Constant Improvement, Ben and Katie Furnish Rose to Third in the U.S. in AFBF Competition
Kentucky Agricultural News, Kentucky Farm Bureau
CYNTHIANA, Ky. — Just over a year ago, Ben and Katie Furnish finished among the top three young farm families in the state in Kentucky Farm Bureau’s (KFB’s) 2016 Outstanding Young Farm Family competition.
A year later, the Furnishes placed among the top three young farm families in the entire nation.
After being judged KFB’s 2017 Outstanding Young Farm Family in December, the Furnishes won an expense-paid trip to Nashville, Tennessee, in January to compete for the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award at American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2018 Annual Convention, where they brought home the third-place trophy.
The national award recognizes young farmers who have excelled in their operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants under age 35 are evaluated on their operations’ growth and financial progress, and leadership inside and outside of Farm Bureau.
What made the difference in just one year?
“Just putting in more effort and time into expressing how we feel about Farm Bureau and explaining our operations,” Ben explained. “Just growing it [farm] from one year to the next, doing a better job of managing inputs so we could have better revenues and making our financials look better. Just critiquing everything we did last year helped us achieve this.”
The Furnishes received $2,000 worth of Stanley Black & Decker merchandise, a Case IH 40-inch combination roll cabinet and top chest, and a $500 Case IH parts card. For their state win, they received a Case IH 3-n-1 compressor/welder/generator, an Apple iPad, $1,000 cash, $1,250 in vouchers from Dyna-Gro Seed and Southern States Cooperative, 100 hours use of a Case IH tractor of 125 horsepower or less, and a voucher for 12 bags of Pioneer Seed corn.
Working with Ben’s parents, Ben and Katie farm more than 2,200 acres of owned or leased land in Harrison and Bourbon counties, producing stoker steers, burley tobacco, corn, soybeans, wheat, mixed hay, and for the last three years, industrial hemp.
“We are very honored and proud of what we have accomplished,” Ben told the Cynthiana Democrat. “It’s kind of amazing to look back and see how much we’ve grown since 2003.”
After graduating from Harrison County High School in 2003, Ben bought his first group of cows and raised his first tobacco crop utilizing the farming background he grew up with on his parents’ 176-acre cattle and burley tobacco operation. Ben purchased his first farm of 46 adjoining acres in 2005.
“[I] started with six acres of tobacco and 10 acres of pasture for cows,” said Ben, who holds a degree in agricultural economics from the University of Kentucky. “Now we have about 2,300 acres of farmland.”
The couple plans to expand their stocker operation in the future while also looking at expanding their feeder calf operation. That would provide another source of natural fertilizer, lowering their input cost without sacrificing crop yields.
Katie, a 2001 graduate of Harrison County High, also grew up on a farm.
“Katie said she would never marry a farmer, but she changed her mind,” Ben told the Cynthiana newspaper.
Katie has a degree in nursing and works part-time, two days a week, as a registered nurse at Harrison Memorial Hospital.
The couple has three sons – Ford, Garrett, and Brodie.
“That’s the whole reason of building the operation we have to the point it is and the reason we want to grow even further,” Ben said, “so that they have something to come home to after they get educated … if they want to come home.”
Ben and Katie are members of Harrison County Farm Bureau and are active in many other organizations. They also enjoy many family activities, including being active in their church and participating in local youth baseball.
Katie is happy that her kids are being raised the same as their parents – on a farm – with the life lessons that upbringing provides.
“[They’re] learning what hard work is all about and how to earn a living and earn what you have,” she said. “You know, everything just doesn’t get handed to you. We’re teaching them responsibility at a young age.”