Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
510 S. 31st Street , Camp Hill, PA 17001 • 717.761.2740 • Email • @pfbmediaone
For Immediate Release: November 15, 2016
|Franklin County couple Justin and Susan Conner (center) are presented the Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award by state YF&R Chair Don Buckman (right) and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s President Rick Ebert during PFB 66th Annual Meeting in Hershey.|
|Justin and Susan Conner Biographical Video|
(Hershey) –Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) has selected Justin and Susan Conner of Franklin County as the winner of the 2016 Young Farmer and Rancher (YF&R) Achievement Award during PFB’s 66th Annual Meeting in Hershey.
The award honors an individual or farm couple between the ages of 18 and 35 that has 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.
The Conners, who produce small square bale hay and straw on 400 acres near Chambersburg, both grew up on farms and earned degrees in agriculture from Penn State University. They also offer a brokerage business for other farmers to market hay and straw as an alternative to using an auction.
“This pooling of resources has allowed us to vastly expand our business and serve much larger customers with a broad range of needs,” said Justin Conner. “This portion of our business accounts for 40 to 60 percent of our agricultural sales on a year to year basis.”
The couple also tapped into the growth of the Marcellus Shale industry in Pennsylvania by providing gas developers with large volumes of stray for industrial seeding projects.
“Industrial straw has become a strategic part of our business model, adding another source of revenue that strengthens our farming business,” added Susan Conner, who says the couple plans to stay involved in Farm Bureau, focusing their attention on educating the public about agriculture.
The Conners served for six years on Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer & Rancher Committee and played a major role in the “Harvest for All” program, working with farms that donated a significant amount of fresh produce to local food banks.
“Justin and Susan demonstrated creativity in transitioning from a livestock farm to a grain farm, growing hay on the fairways of a former golf course, marketing their products to natural gas developers and providing an alternative method for other farmers to market their grain,” said PFB President Rick Ebert. “This type of innovation is an example of what the next generation of farmers can offer to the future of agriculture.”
Meanwhile, this year’s other finalist for the YF&R Achievement Award was dairy farmer Jason Nailor of Cumberland County.
Nailor, who milks 80 cows and manages a small beef herd, says he has fulfilled a life-long dream of running his own dairy farm. Nailor also serves on the Cumberland County Farm Bureau’s board as county treasurer.
As the Achievement Award winner, Justin and Susan Conner will receive a variety of prizes, plus an expense paid trip to PFB’s 2017 State YF&R Leadership Conference and free registration and lodging for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 98th Annual Meeting in January 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona, where they will compete for national honors.
Hundreds of farmers from across the state attended Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s 66th Annual Meeting at the Hershey Lodge from November 14-16, to set policy for the statewide organization on issues affecting farm and rural families.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization with a volunteer membership of nearly 62,000 farm and rural families, representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.