Joanna Carraway, center, is the 2013 Tomorrow’s Top Producer Horizon Award winner. She’s pictured, from left to right, with Top Producer’s Jeanne Bernick, her husband, Craig Carraway; SFP’s Reggie Underwood and Top Producer’s Sara Schafer.
The Tomorrow’s Top Producer Horizon Award recognizes a producer, under the age of 35, who demonstrates excellence in the business of farming. This includes marketing, farm finance, technology, and family and employee relations.
Every corner of farm country has its own unique challenges. In Murray, Ky., the hometown of this year’s award recipient, the biggest challenge has been no rain, something most of us can now relate to. Joanna Carraway and her husband Craig bought into his family’s farm, which includes Craig’s parents, Steve and Freda, in 2006.
They had a banner year growing corn, soybeans, winter wheat and tobacco. It was such an encouraging year that Joanna left her job at a software development company to also join the farm, full-time.
In 2007, it quit raining, and hardly rained since. Corn yields on Carraway Family Farms have come in under 100 bu. per acre five of the last seven years due to drought. In 2012, corn yields were a devastating 31 bu. per acre.
Yet, these young farmers have been able to not only survive, but thrive under very adverse conditions.
Joanna says that nothing teaches you to manage money better, than not having any. She says in 2007 they were facing a trying financial situation, because the corn, soybean and tobacco crops were all a disaster. She knew it was time to make some management changes to create a better future.
Joanna grew up the youngest of five girls in southeast Missouri. She says after many hours on the tractor, starting at age 8, she had no plans to be a farmer. She enrolled in Murray State University, wanting to find a career in business administration. Yet, after only six months, she missed agriculture and farming. It was just in her blood. She switched her major to agronomy and started an internship at a local agriculture retail store, where she met Craig.
Joanna says as a child, farming was long, hot and hard days. Now she knows farming is more than just driving a tractor, even though she still does plenty of that. She has taken on the role of record keeping, setting financial goals and making plans to execute them.
Joanna and Craig are both seventh-generation farmers. Or as they say, their families have been farmers for as long back as they can track. The couple has a have a son, Preston, and daughter, Hannah.
About the Award
2012 was the first year for this prestigious award. Michael Daniels, an impressive farmer from Salem, Wisconsin, received the award last year.
By winning this award, the young farmer receives a trip for two to the Tomorrow’s Top Producer conference in Chicago, as well as a 7-day trip to the Cereals Show in the United Kingdom, which takes place in June. This award is sponsored by SFP.