Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) has selected Andrew and Katherine Flinchbaugh of York County as the winners of the 2014 Young Farmer and Rancher (YF&R) Achievement Award, during PFB’s 64th Annual Meeting in Hershey.
The award honors the farm couple or individual between the ages of 18 and 35 who have demonstrated outstanding farming and leadership achievements. The contestants were evaluated by a panel of judges on the basis of their farm operation, with emphasis on the farm’s growth and financial progress and the applicant’s record of leadership within and outside of Farm Bureau.
Andrew “Andy” and Katherine “Katie” are fourth generation farmers, who hold an ownership share in Flinchbaugh’s Orchard & Farm Market in Hellam Township. They are part of a LLC partnership with Andy’s parents, (Ritchie and Sonia), brother (Michael) and sister (Julie Flinchbaugh Keene). The family farm is a diverse operation, comprised of an orchard and farm market, which includes agritourism activities; grain crops, such as corn and soybeans; and animals, including pigs and egg-laying hens.
“My responsibilities on the family farm focus on grain crop production, tending to the planting, growing and harvesting of about 1,700 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay,” said Andy Flinchbaugh, who is also a member of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s state board of directors.
“I oversee the hens and sell the eggs they provide to the family farm market. I also do a portion of the baking of food items for the farm market,” said Katie Flinchbaugh, who serves as information director and newsletter editor for the York County Farm Bureau and was the winner of PFB’s 2010 YF&R Discussion Meet.
Flinchbaugh’s Orchards & Farm Market was recognized earlier this year for enrolling more than 200 acres into the state’s Farmland Preservation Program, enabling Pennsylvania to become the first state in the nation to eclipse the 500,000-acre plateau in preserved farmland.
“Andy and Katie are outstanding young farmers. They have demonstrated a love for agriculture and a commitment to farming for generations to come. They also work to engage the public about farm issues and have been extremely active in Farm Bureau,” said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer.
The Flinchbaughs add that they and other members of the farm partnership have made changes over the years to increase the value of the operation, implement additional environmental improvements and educate the public about farming practices.
“Farming may be one of the most challenging careers, but it is that challenge that keeps you going, because every day there is something new” But that challenge keeps things exciting and keeps us going in agriculture,” added Andy Flinchbaugh.
Meanwhile, this year’s YF&R Achievement Award runners-up were dairy farmers Nathan and Erica Mowrer of Huntington County. Nathan is a seventh generation dairy farmer, working in partnership with his father.
As the Achievement Award winner, the Flinchbaughs receive $100 Gift Cards from MSC Business Services and Safemark, 100 hours of use of a new tractor from Case IH, gift prize packs from Grainger and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, and an expense paid trip to PFB’s 2015 State YF&R Leadership Conference. Andy and Katie also receive free registration and lodging for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 96th Annual Meeting in January 2015 in San Diego, where they will compete for national honors.
Hundreds of farmers from across the state attended Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s 64th Annual Meeting at the Hershey Lodge from November 17-19, to set policy for the statewide organization on issues affecting farm and rural families.