CHESTERFIELD, MO. (November 12, 2014) – Today, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA®) announced the winners of its second class of the Faces of Farming and Ranching program, after a nationwide search was concluded to help put real faces on agriculture for American consumers. Erin Brenneman (Iowa), Darrell Glaser (Texas), Jay Hill (New Mexico), Thomas Titus (Illinois) and Carla Wardin (Michigan) were all named program winners. The class will be active participants in the national dialogue about food production to set the record straight. These farmers and ranchers will share their personal stories and experiences through public appearances, events, media interviews and social media.
“I could not be more impressed with this year's new Faces of Farming and Ranching,” said Nancy Kavazanjian, chairperson of USFRA and a Wisconsin farmer director with the United Soybean Board. “The first Faces of Farming and Ranching had a positive impact on consumers across the country and we are sure this new class also will see success as they connect with consumers and share their stories about how food gets from their farm or ranch to our plates. So many outstanding farmers and ranchers stepped forward and offered to be a consumer face for USFRA. We are overwhelmed with the number of individuals who are willing to represent the nation’s agricultural community.”
Dedicated farmers and ranchers from across the nation submitted applications. This is the second time USFRA has sought farmers and ranchers to speak on behalf of the industry in this capacity. Consumers, farmers and ranchers were asked to vote online for whom they believed best represented agriculture across the country. These votes were factored into the final decision to determine the Faces of Farming and Ranching. In addition to the public vote, a panel of judges interviewed and evaluated the finalists to help determine the winners of Faces of Farming and Ranching.
These farmers and ranchers will share their stories on a national stage through media interviews, consumer-facing public appearances and events.
For more information on the Faces of Farming & Ranching program, visit www.fooddialogues.com/Faces. Follow the conversation online at @USFRA #FoodD. To request interviews or photos of this year’s winners, contact Joanna Schroeder on behalf of USFRA, at 636-751-5725 or jschroeder@USFRAOnline.org
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Meet the new Faces of Farming & Ranching
Erin Brenneman (Iowa)
Erin Brenneman lives in Wellman, Iowa, and is part of the Brenneman Pork, Inc. team. The farm operation is a family farrow-to-finish operation that consists of just over 20,000 sows on three sites – the main home in southeast Iowa and two sow farms in Missouri. The operation was started by her husband’s parents, Rob and Char Brenneman, in 1981 with a few sows outside and today nearly all of their children and spouses work full time for the operation with nearly 700,000 pigs each year going to market. She and her family also farm 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans each year.
“I am excited to be a Face of Farming and Ranching because I know I will be able to help share agriculture’s story from a unique perspective of being a city-raised girl. I feel that I am able to connect and see eye to eye with many consumers who may be confused about where their food comes from, because I have lived on that side of the unknown. Becoming a Face of Farming and Ranching will open so many more opportunities to show a much broader audience how wonderful farming is and our true passion for it.”
“I hope that in the next two years, I am able to relate to everyday consumers and encourage people to seek out farmers with their questions on farming rather than a quick Google search. I hope to become a solid and honest reference that people can find, and relate well to, when looking for the story of where their food comes from.”
“I am excited to continue helping farmers and ranchers get their story out and reach as many people as we can with our positive message and our unique passion for what we do. I am also excited to interact with more people with honest questions about our quest to help feed the growing population and the exciting things we are doing in agriculture to achieve that. We need to help people see that modern, progressive agriculture is not something that we need to be scared of, but rather embrace. Education and positive stories of our day-to-day operations is the only way we are going to achieve understanding.”
Darrell Glaser (Texas)
Darrell Glaser lives in Rogers, Texas, on the Bar G Ranch with his wife, Shannon, his four sons and his mother. The farm and ranch consists of 500 acres of owned land and 250 acres of leased pasture. They run an integrated contract turkey brooding operation and a commercial and purebred cow/calf operation. They brood nearly 600,000 turkeys each year and maintain a cow herd that includes 200 mother cows. The farm was started by Darrell’s grandfather 80 years ago, and has been in constant production ever since. When Darrell took over the farm, he added two contract turkey brooding houses to help diversify their operation and converted their row crop land to improved pastures and in 1996 added two additional turkey brooding houses.
“I am honored to be chosen as one of the Faces of Farming and Ranching. It is very exciting to be able to share the story of farming and ranching with others. I feel it is very important for those of us involved in production agriculture to help educate others about what we do on a daily basis on our farms and ranches.”
“During the next two years, I would like to help people understand the important role the American farmers and ranchers play in feeding our country. I look forward to telling the story of production agriculture and helping people understand that farmers and ranchers are good stewards of our land. Many of us are 3rd, 4th or 5th generation producers.”
“As a Face of Farming and Ranching, I look forward to interacting with those who may not understand what goes into producing their food supply. Consumers are becoming more concerned about where their food comes from and how it is handled. I feel as an industry it our responsibility to help answer these questions in a factual and professional manner. “
Jay Hill (New Mexico)
Jay Hill’s father established Hill Farms in 1969 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Today, the family now farms between 500-700 acres. They use double rotation and oftentimes triple rotation, which gives the farm upwards of 1,000-2,000 acres of annual crop production. Today Jay focuses on the farm’s vegetable production and they produce between 15-18 million pounds of onions between May and July with the onions being sold in all 50 states as well as Canada and Mexico. Hill Farms also produces corn, wheat, pinto beans, alfalfa, lettuce, pecans and world famous green chilies.
“What excites me the most about the opportunity to share my story is the opportunity to travel around our great nation listening consumers that have true questions and concerns about how I produce my product. And in turn, answering those questions that help bridge the gap between the farm and their fork.
“I pray that the next two years help provide me with the tools I need to continue educating others about the responsible practices of the American farmer.”
“I look forward to meeting with people from coast to coast talking about what I love the most – farming and ranching. I am ready to listen, travel and do my part to educate those who are interested in where their food comes from.”
Thomas Titus (Illinois)
Thomas Titus’ family established Tri Pork in March of 1962 with 240 acres where grain and livestock were produced by one family. Today the farm supports four families, three full-time employee families and two part-time employees with hopes of bringing back the sixth generation to the farm. The farm consists of 1,550 acres of corn, soybeans and hay along with a 750 sow farrow-to-finish facility, 45 head cow/calf herd along with 15 chickens and 20 goats. Thomas primarily focuses on the operation’s pork business where they market 12,000 pigs annually. In addition, the farm has 50 sows in the herd for show pig production, sale and exhibition to allow his children the opportunity to engage in 4-H and FFA.
“Becoming a Face of Farming and Ranching is very exciting for our farm family. Every farm has a unique and diverse story and being able to share the story of our multi-generational, diversified farm is something we are extremely passionate about. By sharing our story we hope to begin to reconnect with our consumers outside of our local area and help provide reassurance that growing a safe, secure and wholesome product for their family and ours is top priority.”
“As each generation walks through the aisles of the grocery store beginning to question how their food is being produced, as a Face of Farming and Ranching I want to be that connection back to the family farm, the man in the seat of the tractor to help answer their questions and reassure our consumers that environmental sustainability and animal welfare are our very top concerns. At the same time, inspiring the next generation of “Agvocates” in not only my own children, but reaching out to youth on a larger scale, to tell each and every farm’s unique story.”
“As a Face of Farming and Ranching, I'm most looking forward to being able to make a greater impact on those who are making the food purchasing decisions and bridging that gap between the millennial and the meat counter. As people only become further removed from their agricultural roots, telling agriculture’s great story is very important not only for our farm today, but most importantly, the next generation of farmers.”
Carla Wardin (Michigan)
Carla Wardin is a sixth-generation dairy farmer in St. John’s, Michigan. Her family’s farm, the Evergreen Dairy, recently expanded its herd to 400 cows. Seven years ago, she and her husband Kris left their corporate jobs in Connecticut and moved back to the land where her great-great-great grandparents started farming in 1879. Today, the family lives in the 135-year old house where her great-grandma was born. They are renovating the barn her great-grandpa built where he used to milk cows by hand. Today, Evergreen Dairy graze cattle on the same fields as Carla’s ancestors and still practice natural bull breeding. In addition, the family grows crops for their feed and have 850 acres of corn, alfalfa, sudax and triticale. They also calve seasonally, with their cows giving birth in the summer.
"I love that this program exists, because how can people know a farmer if they never have a chance to meet one? I love the idea that I can represent farmers and talk with people about our industry, lifestyle and current food-related issues."
"When we came back to the farm seven years ago, there weren't a ton of farmers online - they were busy outside! Now thanks to the ubiquity of smart phones, farmers are finding it much easier to share what goes on daily on our farms. I hope to encourage that trend, spark meaningful conversations, and help all of us reach consumers in a way that wasn't possible just a short time ago."
"I'm most looking forward to having direct contact with people who are eager to discuss modern farming. I love meeting new people, I love talking about agriculture, and I'm incredibly excited to engage people nationwide. If you have a question, come to me! I'll do my best to answer it. And if I don't know the answer, I bet I know a farmer who does!"
About U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA)
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) consists of more than 80 farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners representing virtually all aspects of agriculture, working to engage in dialogue with consumers who have questions about how today’s food is grown and raised. USFRA is committed to continuous improvement and supporting U.S. farmers and ranchers efforts to increase confidence and trust in today’s agriculture.
Joanna Schroeder, Marketing Contractor, USFRA, jschroeder@USFRAonline.org or 636-751-5725
This press release was wholly or partially funded by one or more Checkoff programs.
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