(TRENTON) – Jeff Vander Groef, a Sussex County dairy farmer, has
won the National Outstanding Young Farmer competition,
sponsored by the United States Junior Chamber (Jaycees).
Vander Groef, the 2005 New Jersey Outstanding Young
Farmer, received the honor, along with three other
farmers from Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan on February
12 at the National Outstanding Young Farmer Awards
Congress in Modesto, California.
“Jeff is a source of pride for our state as one of only four New Jersey
farmers named National Outstanding Young Farmer in the program’s 50-year
history,” said New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. “Jeff
is a wonderful example of our many innovative farmers who have achieved success
through hard work and determination. He also is working to help sustain the dairy
industry in New Jersey through development of a Jersey Fresh brand of milk.”
Vander Groef, 37, a third generation farmer, has followed in the footsteps
of his father and grandfather, who left the dairy business before Jeffrey
entered it professionally in 1986. He started out with only $12,000,
seven registered Holsteins, a rented small farm with 30 acres of pasture,
and no cropland, which required him to purchase all of his animals’ forages.
In the last ten years, Jeffrey has developed a prospering farm operation
that includes: 337 acres, a herd of 110 mature Holsteins, plus 100
animals of various ages.
From the beginning, Vander Groef has looked for ways to make his farm
a stable and viable business. He developed and implemented a soil conversation
plan. He enlisted the services of a certified crop advisor on fertilizer,
planning, scouting and management. His farm was the first in Sussex
County to initiate a whole farm comprehensive nutrient management plan.
“Jeff has been able to achieve so much through his faith and the support
of his family, wife Tracy and their five children, and landowners, the Lange
family,” said Secretary Kuperus. “Jeff is an example of how we can
maintain a successful agricultural industry in New Jersey.”
Three other New Jersey Outstanding Young Farmers have gained the National
recognition: in 2001, Robert C. Von Thun Jr., a Middlesex County vegetable
farmer; in 1989, James Giamarese, a Middlesex County vegetable farmer;
in 1985, Abbott W. Lee, a Burlington County cranberry farmer.
The purpose of the Outstanding Young Farmer program is to bring about
a greater interest in the farmer, to foster better urban-rural relations
through the understanding of the farmers' problems, to develop an appreciation
of their contributions and achievements, and to inform the agribusiness
community of the growing urban awareness of farmers' importance and
impact on the American economy.
RFD TV will air the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce National Outstanding
Young Farmer Awards banquet this Saturday. The event will be shown
on U.S. Farm Report which will air 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, February