Four farmers have been selected winners of the Faces of Farming & Ranching contest, conducted by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. Winners include:
-Katie Pratt, Dixon, Illinois. Katie and her husband raise corn, seed corn and soybeans with her husband's brother and his wife, and with her husband's parents.
-Chris Chinn, Clarence, Missouri. Chris and her husband are fifth generation farmers, and are one of three generations currently operating Chinn Hog Farm.
-Will Gilmer, Sulligent, Alabama. Will is a third-generation dairyman, and milks 200 head in partnership with his father, in addition to raising silage and hay for feed.
-Bo Stone, Rowland, North Carolina. Bo raises 10,000 hogs on contract for Murphy Brown in addition to 2,300 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans, in partnership with his parents.
The Faces of Farming & Ranching contest began nationwide last summer, and more than 100 farmers submitted video applications. From that pool, nine finalists were selected and announced at The Food Dialogues in New York City, in November. The four winners were selected based on online voting (held through December 15) and interviews conducted by a panel of food and agriculture experts.
The winners will act as national spokespeople, and have committed to spending 30 days off the farm in the coming year to share stories and experiences, and will help answer consumers' questions about how food is grown and raised.
The four winners have hit the ground running, having already met and interacted with major grocer chains at the Food Marketing Institute.
Illinois winner Katie Pratt, a mother of two young children, says she's most looking forward to talking to other mothers. "I want to find out how her perceptions are developed and why she believes what she believes," Pratt said. "I have discovered that one-on-one connection can't be duplicated, either on the internet or on a panel or anywhere else. I find myself learning so much in how I approach these conversations."
Missouri hog farmer Chris Chinn concurs. "I want to reach people who are willing to learn, and I want them to share my story with their friends and family."
Each of the winners will rely heavily on their experience as multi-generational family farmers, driving home the point that although their farms may be incorporated, they are still families operating the business.
Click here for more on the winners, including video from each of their farms.