By January, 27 farmers from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania were nominated for the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer award, and were sent applications. By late winter, eight candidates from three of those states scrambled to document their life stories, trials and successes and send in their applications.
In late April, those applications were submitted to the scrutiny of three judges: Darrell Curtis, CEO of AgChoice Farm Credit; Tom Truitt, CEO of Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit; and Jeff Hyde, acting director of Penn State Extension. Candidates were scored on:
• 75%: progressive farming skills, long-range planning and financial integrity
• 15%: agricultural leadership roles and peer acceptance
• 10%: local community leadership involvement
The masterful keys include…
Drum roll, please. Here are the attributes and clues about the four winners:
• All four are superb debt managers, using well-equipped farm shops to do repairs and even rebuilds to hold down machinery costs.
• All have farm nutrient management and conservation plans, and keen eyes on soil and water quality.
• All are extensively involved in their local farming communities.
• Three extensively use grid-mapping and GPS-guided variable-rate technologies.
• Three do custom work and grain hauling.
• Three have advanced farm transition plans already underway.
• Two have hog or dairy operations; one has a hay enterprise; and one has a vegetable enterprise.
• While none have college degrees, all have strong “bents” for learning new ag production and management technologies and working with Cooperative Extension.
Still haven’t narrowed it down? Beginning Monday, we’ll feature one new Master Farmer each day through Thursday. Watch for them along with photo galleries to follow.