The White House and Agriculture Department honored several Farm Bureau members as "Champions of Change" for Agriculture. The honorees are leaders from across the country who are doing extraordinary things to build a strong foundation for the next generation of farming and ranching.
"We're pleased to count several outstanding farmer and rancher members among the Champions of Change for Agriculture honorees," said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. "They serve as community and agricultural leaders, inspiring others to develop their own interests in farming and ranching, all while providing food, fiber and fuel for our nation and the world," Stallman said.
Farm Bureau members honored as Champions of Change for Agriculture:
· Jake Carter, chair of AFBF's national Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, McDonough, GA. Carter operates Southern Belle Farm 30 miles outside of Atlanta. The farm features U-Pick strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and peaches, as well as a fall corn maze and educational school tours. He strives to share the wonderful promise of a career and life in agriculture with others who love the land and want to create a life there.
· Lee Haynes, Nature's Best Egg Company Inc., Cullman, AL. While at the University of Alabama, Haynes studied business. Upon graduation, he returned to the family egg farm and has held a key management role there since then. He will graduate from the Alabama Farmers Federation's Leaders for Agriculture two-year program in August.
· Kristin Fritz Kubiszak, The Blueberry People – MBG Marketing, Paw Paw, MI. Kubiszak is retail manager for Brookside Farms, a fifth-generation family farm that focuses on growing and packing blueberries for distribution through MBG's cooperative marketing network. She sits on the board of directors for the Van Buren County Farm Bureau as chair of the Promotion and Education Committee, which works to inform the public about Michigan agriculture and how it affects communities.
· Melinda Litvinas and Jacob Hunt, University of Delaware Creamery and Windy Brow Farms, Newark, DE, and Newton, NJ. Litvinas is manager of the UDairy Creamery at the University of Delaware's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Hunt is managing partner at Windy Brow Farms, LLC, and The Cow's Brow Creamery in Newton, NJ, which typically hosts 30,000 visitors each year. While in college, Hunt, who is from a Farm Bureau family, worked closely with Litvinas in developing community outreach for the UDairy Creamery.
· Quint Pottinger, owner of Affinity Farms, New Haven, KT. Pottinger's Affinity Farms is a mixed row-crop and herb farm. Pottinger pursued his education at the University of Kentucky, majoring in agriculture economics. Upon graduation he connected with various agriculture groups in his state including the Kentucky Farm Bureau, Kentucky Corn Growers and Kentucky Soybean Association.
· Lindsey Lusher Shute, National Young Farmers Coalition, Clermont, NY. Shute is co-founder and executive director of the National Young Farmers Coalition. Led by young farmers, NYFC advocates for policy change, provides business services and creates networking opportunities for America's new growers. Shute and her husband own and manage Hearty Roots Community Farm, a diversified vegetable farm.
· Pierre Sleiman, founder and CEO of Go Green Agriculture, Encinitas, CA. Go Green Agriculture is an innovative company that grows produce inside climate-controlled greenhouses using hydroponics. Sleiman sits on the board of directors of the San Diego County Farm Bureau and will graduate this year from the California Farm Bureau Federation's leadership program.
· Desiree Wineland, Cambridge, NE. Wineland was born in Sweden, later moving to the U.S. where she became a citizen and served in the United States Army. She and her family raise grapes and operate a butcher shop. She recently completed the Nebraska LEAD Program and the Nebraska Ranch Practicum and Cow/Calf College.
Other Champions of Change honorees include farmers Ryan and Tiffany Batalden, MN; Bill Bridgeforth, chairman of the National Black Growers Council, AL; Adam McClung, executive vice president, Arkansas Cattlemen's Association, AR; Fabiola Nizigiyimana, founding member of the Immigrant Farmer Marketing Cooperative, MA; Jesus Rodriguez, horticultural student, Washington State; Vena A-dae Romero, Cochiti Youth Experience, NM; and farmer Beth Tharp, IN.
To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a champion, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions. Information about opportunities to support new and beginning farmers is available at www.usda.gov/newfarmers.