skip to main content skip to main navigation

The OYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, selecting its first group of national winners in 1955, and is administered by the Outstanding Farmers of America fraternity. 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, administered by the Outstanding Farmers of America Fraternity, and supported by the National Association of county Agricultural Agents and the US Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Each year, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture recognizes the outstanding achievements of a young person engaged in farming in New Jersey. The State Board of Agriculture recognizes the winner at the annual State Agricultural Convention. An application for preliminary competition for the National OYF award is submitted to OFA on behalf of New Jersey’s OYF. The top 10 candidates are then chosen from the OYF applications received from across the country and this select group is invited to participate in a face-to-face interview with the National OYF judges a few days before the National OYF Congress. If New Jersey's candidate is selected as one of the nation's top 10 candidates, our candidate and a guest receive an all-inclusive trip to attend the National OYF Awards Congress to compete for one of the four National OYF Awards.

Using an Official State Nomination Form [pdf 29k], nominations for the New Jersey Outstanding Young Farmer competition can be submitted by any organization, member of the Outstanding Farmers of America (OFA is a fraternity of former state OYF winners ) [pdf 28k], as well as individuals that know of a deserving young farmer. Candidates who have been nominated in the past are eligible for renomination as are previous state winners who went to the National competition but did not receive a National OYF Award. Each year the OYF program strives to have as many candidates nominated for the state award as possible.

To be eligible for nomination for the OYF Award, a farmer (male or female) must meet the following requirements:

  1. Be a farm operator deriving a minimum of two-thirds of his/her income from farming; and
  2. Be aged 21-39, and will not become 41 prior to January 1 before the National OYF Awards Congress.

A panel of three judges will review each nominee’s application based on the following criteria:

  1. The progress in their agricultural career (50 percent of the total score);
  2. Soil and water conservation practices (25 percent of the total score); and
  3. Contribution to his/her community, state, nation (25 percent of the total score).

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 also may include salaried farm managers and employees who are actively involved in policy and management decisions.

An Official State Nomination Form must be completed by the nominating organization, OFA member or individual and submitted by January 15. Once the Official State Nomination Form is submitted, the New Jersey OYF Program Manager will send each nominee a preliminary National OYF Nomination Form. Financial information IS NOT required for state competition. However, the State OYF winner will be required to provide financial information on their National OYF Form. The state nominees must complete the National OYF Nomination Form and submit it to NJ’s OYF Manager no later than March 10.

If you have any questions about the OYF nomination procedure, contact Joe Atchison, New Jersey OYF Program Manager, at the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, (609) 913-6520 or email