2018 Best Young Farmers, Ranchers

DTN/PF Announces America's Newest Best Young Farmers and Ranchers

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
The 2018 Best Young Farmers and Ranchers Program honorees are (from left to right): Adam Wilson, Jamie Blythe, Quint Pottinger, Tyler and Page Turecek, and Wade Wilhour. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

CHICAGO (DTN) -- DTN/The Progressive Farmer added five new honorees to its America's Best Young Farmers and Ranchers program. The class of 2018 was introduced Tuesday during a DTN/The Progressive Farmer Ag Summit award ceremony.

Now entering its ninth year, the program recognizes young farmers and ranchers who are building successful and innovative agricultural businesses. The award recognizes the work they do to promote agriculture and have a positive impact in their communities. The 2018 class joins 36 past honorees.

Here are the newest members of the America's Best Young Farmers and Ranchers program:

-- Quint Pottinger, 29, Affinity Farms, of New Haven, Kentucky, farms 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans, cover crops and soon, wheat. He is married to Leah, an IT project manager for Humana and professional photographer.

Pottinger pointed to a new grain storage system as one of his best management moves.

"The decision to add more grain storage and a drying system has had a significant impact on our farm. With the drying system we are able to shell our corn a month earlier. It has also dramatically improved our grain quality and helped us step into new markets we did not realize were even possible."

In 2013, Pottinger was named a White House Champion for Change for production practices and ability to connect consumers to the farm. He serves as a board member of the Kentucky FFA Foundation as chair of fundraising and serves as the Agriculture Ambassador to the Kentucky-Haiti Partnership mentoring young producers in Haiti.

-- Jamie Blythe, 40, Blythe Cotton Company, of Town Creek, Alabama, farms 3,600 acres of cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans. She also manages a growing cow-calf operation. Blythe and her husband, K.P. Arnold, have a daughter, Gracie, who is 2 1/2.

"Changing our management style has been one of the most important decisions we have made as a family partnership," she said. "We evolved from a top-heavy management style to a more streamlined approach. We perform most of the fieldwork ourselves with only a small team. We try to match our equipment and agronomy to what four people can accomplish. I don't want to get overextended or perform a sloppy job due to our lack of time and labor."

Jamie serves on the Board of Directors for Easter Seals of Northwest Alabama. Easter Seals provides therapy, job training and job placement services for people with disabilities and special needs.

-- Adam Wilson, 38, Wilson Farms, of Abingdon, Virginia, runs 300 cows and produces hay on 2,015 acres. Sarah, his wife, and Wilson are raising two children: Clint, 10, and Madalyn, 7.

Wilson installed feeding areas for his calves that kept them out of the mud and dramatically improved their weight gains. "These feeding areas consist of concrete pads and feed bunks, keeping our calves comfortable and clean. We have seen daily weight gains increase by 35% -- and we control runoff by capturing 90% of the manure on the pads which we apply to our rented pastures."

Wilson spearheaded a five-year effort to put vocational agricultural classes back into Russell County, Virginia, high schools. The programs had been eliminated 25 years ago in two of three county schools, but with local and state support, students are again engaged in ag-related course work and career training.

-- Tyler Turecek, 23, and Page Turecek, 23, Stacked Lazy 3 Ranch, of Agate, Colorado, manage the family's cattle business with oversight from Tyler's parents, Keven and Sandi Turecek. The operation spans 50,000 acres of native grassland, wheat and feed crops.

Tyler managed the ranch through a calf mortality problem. "We decided it would be more efficient and safe to calve in corrals instead of open pastures. So, as our cows calve, they are in close range to the house and to our facilities in case of trouble. Our death loss has decreased from 8% to 3%."

Tyler and Page author a blog, "The View From Under a Cowboy Hat" written for the non-ranching public. They write about ranching, Colorado agriculture and food production.

-- Wade Wilhour, 40, Wilhour Farms, of Beecher City, Illinois, manages 6,000 acres in a family operation that includes his mother and father, and four brothers. Wilhour is married to Emily. Together, they are raising four children: Laney, 15, Elly, 14, Andrew, 10, and Carly, 8.

"I lease ground from several dozen landlords, from 3 acres to 300 acres," Wilhour said. This leads to communications being a challenge.

"We visit in person, bring the grain check and talk to them about the year. We also mail newsletters. A spring newsletter talks about the crop, how the season began. A fall newsletter lets them all know how the season ended. Good communications with every family is a blessing to our farming operation."

Wilhour is a member of the Fayette County Board and a deacon at Beecher City Church of Christ.

Nominees for America's Best Young Farmers and Ranchers must be 40 years old or younger in 2018, manage at least 500 acres and/or have interest in a 50-head cow herd or larger.

The 2018 class of America's Best Young Farmers and Ranchers will be profiled in the February 2018 issue of The Progressive Farmer. The profiles will also appear on the DTNPF website.

Five videos, one about each honoree, are available today at http://bit.ly/…

Nominations for the class of 2019 are now being accepted. Download an application document at: https://spotlights.dtnpf.com/…

Applications also are available by request to dan.miller@dtn.comor by phone at 205-414-4736.

All nominations must be postmarked by April 27, 2018.

Dan Miller can be reached at dan.miller@dtn.com


Dan Miller