The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance on Wednesday announced the winners of its second class of the Faces of Farming and Ranching program, following a nationwide search and online voting process.
Erin Brenneman of Iowa, Darrell Glaser of Texas, Jay Hill of New Mexico, Thomas Titus of Illinois and Carla Wardin of Michigan were all named program winners.
The five new ambassadors will be active participants in the national dialogue about food production, sharing their personal stories and experiences through consumer-facing public appearances, events, media interviews and social media.
"I could not be more impressed with this year's new Faces of Farming and Ranching," said Nancy Kavazanjian, USFRA chairperson. "The first Faces of Farming and Ranching had a positive impact on consumers across the country and we are sure this new class also will see success as they connect with consumers and share their stories about how food gets from their farm or ranch to our plates."
Related: Four Farmers Named 'Faces' Winners
Kavazanjian said many farmers and ranchers applied to be a consumer face for USFRA. " We are overwhelmed with amount of individuals who are willing to be a representative of the nation's agricultural community," she said.
As part of the process, consumers, farmers and ranchers were asked to vote online for whom they believed best represented agriculture across the country. These votes were factored into the final decision to determine the Faces of Farming and Ranching.
In addition to the public vote, a panel of judges interviewed and evaluated the finalists to help determine the winners of Faces of Farming and Ranching.
The five farmers and ranchers represent diverse sectors of agricultural production, from poultry farming to vegetable farming.
Erin Brenneman: Erin Brenneman lives in Wellman, Iowa, and is part of the Brenneman Pork, Inc. team. The farm operation is a family farrow to finish operation that consists of more than 20,000 sows over three sites – the main home in Southeast Iowa and two sow farms in Missouri.
"I am excited to be a Face of Farming and Ranching because I know I will be able to help share agriculture's story from a unique perspective of being a city-raised girl. I feel that I am able to connect and see eye-to-eye with many consumers who may be confused about where their food comes from because I have lived on that side of the unknown." - Erin Brenneman
Darrell Glaser: Darrell Glaser lives in Rogers, Texas, on the Bar G Ranch with his wife, Shannon, his four sons and his mother. The family runs an integrated contract turkey brooding operation and commercial and purebred cow calf operations.
"During the next two years I would like to help consumers understand the important role the American farmer and rancher play in feeding our country. I look forward to telling the story of production agriculture and helping people understand that farmers and ranchers are good stewards of our land. Many of us are 3rd, 4th or 5th generation producers." - Darrel Glaser
Jay Hill: Along with his family in Las Cruces, N.M., Jay Hill focuses on the farm's production of 15-18 million pounds of onions. Hill Farms also produces corn, wheat, pinto beans, alfalfa, lettuce, pecans and green chile.
"What excites me the most about the opportunity to share my story is the opportunity to travel around our great nation listening consumers that have true questions and concerns about how I produce my product. And in turn, answering those questions that help bridge the gap between the farm and their fork." - Jay Hill
Thomas Titus: Thomas Titus' family farm near Elkhart, Ill., supports four families, three full-time employee families and two part-time employees. The farm consists of 1,550 acres of corn, soybeans and hay along with a 750 sow farrow-to-finish hog facility, 45 head cow/calf herd along with 15 chickens and 20 goats.
"Becoming a Face of Farming and Ranching is very exciting for our farm family. Every farm has a unique and diverse story and being able to share the story of our multi-generational, diversified farm is something we are extremely passionate about. By sharing our story we hope to begin to reconnect with our consumers outside of our local area and help provide reassurance that growing a safe, secure and wholesome product for their family and ours is top priority." - Thomas Titus
Carla Wardin: Carla Wardin is a sixth-generation dairy farmer in St. John’s, Mich. Her family’s farm, the Evergreen Dairy, recently expanded its herd to 400 cows. In addition, the family grows crops for their feed and have 850 acres of corn, alfalfa, sudax and triticale.
"When we came back to the farm seven years ago, there weren't a ton of farmers online - they were busy outside! Now thanks to the ubiquity of smart phones, farmers are finding it much easier to share what goes on daily on our farms. I hope to encourage that trend, spark meaningful conversations, and help all of us reach consumers in a way that wasn't possible just a short time ago." - Carla Wardin