Kentucky Ag News
Three finalists named for 2014 Outstanding Young Farm Family contest
Kentucky Farm Bureau
LOUISVILLE — Preliminary judging for Kentucky Farm Bureau’s (KFB) 2014 “Outstanding Young Farm Family” competition is now complete and three finalists have been named for this prestigious honor: Zack and Tiffany Ison of Mercer County, Chris and Rebekah Pierce of Pulaski 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.
Zack & Tiffany Ison
Growing up on his family’s farm in Mercer County, Zack Ison began his own venture into farming at the age of 18. Beginning with 10 acres of tobacco on his father’s land and an additional 37-acre pasture that he rented for his 17 head of cattle, he spent the next several years acquiring land for expanded crop production, cattle pasturing and hay production. Zack married Tiffany, a middle school teacher, soon thereafter and their family grew in sync with the farm. Three children later, the Isons now farm a total of 1,350 acres and have greatly diversified production to include alfalfa, corn, hay, soybeans and tobacco as well as plenty of pastureland for their herd of feeder cattle and cow-calf pairs. The Isons have also added new facilities and equipment to their operation during the past several years, allowing Zack to offer business opportunities like cattle hauling, hay baling, no-till corn planting and harvesting services to other local farmers.
Zack and Tiffany both serve on the Mercer County Farm Bureau board of directors, regularly volunteer their time to assist with and lead numerous committees, and Zack is also a current member of KFB’s Leadership Enhancement for Agricultural Development (LEAD) class. The Isons additionally remain very involved and assume leadership roles in a wide variety of civic and agricultural organizations on both the local and statewide level.
Chris & Rebekah Pierce
Chris and Rebekah Pierce got their start in farming in 2003 when Chris, who was still in college at the time, purchased his first 153-acre farm in Pulaski County. From that initial plot of largely untended land and old, broken-down buildings, Chris established a vision for his farm and applied the time and resources necessary to make that dream a reality. He married Rebekah two years later and over the next several years they became the proud parents of four children. Even as they grew their family they also continued acquiring land, erecting new buildings, securing essential tools and equipment, and putting in the time and effort necessary to grow their row-crop farm to its current 3,441-acre size. Today the Pierces raise canola, corn, soybeans and wheat, but, with an overall goal of leaving their land better than when they first found it, they also grew nearly 700 acres of cover crops last year to improve soil quality through natural means. Working with neighboring farmers, the Pierces also thriftily negotiated trades of planting, spraying, harvesting, transporting and other labor services for inputs or profit on their own farm.
Chris and Rebekah are both active members of the KFB Young Farmer program. Chris, a graduate of KFB’s LEAD class, has additionally served on several of KFB’s state advisory committees and is in a leadership role in numerous other ag-focused organizations across the state. The Pierces, putting their personal goals of being a good community partner into practice, also offer time and leadership to various other local industry and civic groups.
Dustin & Tammy White
Dustin and Tammy White own and operate part of a 13,987-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 Whites, now a family with three young children, raises a sizeable herd of beef cattle and grows 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 and a dryer, added sheds, barns and other essential facilities, implemented better environmental practices, and continued to increase their herd size and production efficiencies. These improvements have also allowed the Whites to expand their business offerings. They provide services like planting, harvesting, grain hauling, cutting and baling hay, clearing land and installing soil conservation projects on nearby land and waterways for neighboring farmers.
Dustin is a Union County Farm Bureau board member, chair of the county’s Young Farmer Committee, and actively involved in local and state organizations that further promote agriculture leadership. The Whites were also finalists in KFB’s 2013 “Outstanding Young Farm Family” award competition.
Judges visit the three finalists in late September to conduct interviews and review the farms in person. Results from the “Outstanding Young Farm Family” will be announced during KFB’s 2014 state annual meeting in Louisville on December 5.
In addition to receiving statewide recognition as the 2014 “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, and a voucher for 12 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 Diego in January 2015. Winners of the national contest will have their choice of either a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado or a 2015 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, and paid registration to AFBF’s 2015 Young Farmer & Rancher Leadership Conference in Nashville in February 2015. 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.