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CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES 2014 OUTSTANDING YOUNG FARMER, SEEKS APPLICATIONS FOR 2015 HONOREE
Warren County Farmer to Receive Award at 2014 State Agricultural Convention
For Immediate Release: November 4, 2013
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – Mitchell Jones, a Warren County hay and grain producer, has been named New Jersey’s 2014 Outstanding Young Farmer by the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture.
Jones, 36, will be presented with his award at the February 2014 New Jersey State Agricultural Convention in Atlantic City.
“Mitchell Jones’ conservation practices have earned him federal and state recognition and enabled him to serve as a trainer to teach others about soil and water conservation on farms,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “He is a wonderful example of our innovative and hard-working state farmers. It is with great pride we honor Mitchell with the Outstanding Young Farmer Award.”
Jones is a first-generation farmer, whose father worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of U.S. Department of Agriculture. After graduating from Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy, he rented small parcels of farmland. He expanded his rental properties and now owns a small farm. His future plans are to purchase additional ground so he is not entirely reliant on rented property.
“As I began to farm my own parcels, my father’s work with NRCS influenced how I treated the land and I tried to increase conservation measures,” said Jones. “This is how I got started and where my passion for agriculture was cultivated.”
Jones has served as President, Vice President and Treasurer of the Warren County Board of Agriculture; Secretary and Treasurer of Rutgers University Board of Managers; Warren County Fair Director; has served as a delegate to the State Agricultural Convention; is active in the Warren and Warren Pomona Granges; and served on the Warren County Economic Development Advisory Council.
Jones, an FFA member in high school, has been a soil judging coach for the Belvidere High School FFA for 13 years.
New Jersey annually recognizes the outstanding achievements of a young farmer who is an upstanding leader, respected agriculturalist and is active in community or faith organizations. The Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the Year 2015 Outstanding Young Farmer (OYF) Award. The submission deadline for nominations is January 15, 2014.
Nominees must be farm operators, deriving a minimum of two-thirds of their income from farming and must be between the ages of 21-40, not becoming 41 prior to January 1, 2015. Candidates who have a financial interest in the farm operation (a sole proprietor, partner, or a corporation) will receive higher ranking in the OYF judging process. However, nominees may also include salaried farm managers and employees who are actively involved in policy and management decisions. Submission of a financial statement is not required for state competition.
A panel of five judges reviews each nominee’s application based on the following criteria: progress in their agricultural career (50 percent of the total score); soil and water conservation practices (25 percent of the total score); and contribution to his/her community, state and nation (25 percent of the total score).
Any individual or organization can nominate deserving young farmers’ names. Persons who have been nominated in the past or previous state winners who did not make it to the National competition can be re-nominated. However, these candidates must still meet the eligibility criteria.
Since the first award was presented, eight New Jersey farmers’ names have been named National Outstanding Young Farmer: Abbott Lee (1985), James B. Giamarese (1989), Robert Von Thun, Jr. (2001), Jeffrey VanderGroef (2005), H. William Sytsema (2009), Richard Norz (2010), John Melick (2011) and Paul “Duce” Tallamy II (2012).
The OYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, with the first group of national winners selected in 1955. The goals of the OYF program are to foster better urban-rural relations through the understanding of farmers’ challenges, as well as the appreciation of their contributions and achievements; to bring about a greater interest in farmers/ranchers; and to help build an urban awareness of the farmers’ importance and impact on America’s economy. The OYF program encourages a greater interest in agriculture through the appreciation of the farmers’ contributions and achievements and recognizes local citizens’ contributions and encourages better urban-rural relations. The National OYF program is sponsored by Deere & Company, supported by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of County Agriculture Agents (NACAA), and is administered by the Outstanding Farmers of America (OFA) Fraternity.
For more information on the state’s Outstanding Young Farmer program, visit: www.nj.gov/agriculture/about/sba/cover.html or call Karen Kritz, OYF Program Manager at (609) 984-2506 or email Karen.Kritz@ag.state.nj.us.