The Grammys of Ag
Moments after Donny DeLine won the Top Producer of the Year award in Chicago, I stuck a video camera in his face and asked him how he felt. DeLine, surrounded by flashing cameras and still shaking from the surprise of being named the winner, simply said: "I feel like I'm at the Grammys!”
Much like the Grammy given for accomplishment in music, the Top Producer of the Year award recognizes achievement in agriculture. It is given to producers who demonstrate excellence in the business of farming, including marketing, finance, employee relations, technology and environmental stewardship. The award is open to any farmer or rancher who derives at least half of his or her income from farming, and a percentage of the judging is based on community service.
For Donny and Christi DeLine, the award recognizes their unique business plan that allows for strategic growth across four states. You can learn more about them in our Summer issue.
The Top Producer of the Year contest is rare in that even when you are a finalist, you are a winner. It's a selective honor to be among the top three, to stand shoulder to shoulder with our industry's best business-minded producers. This year's finalists are no exception: Schmidt Farms, Sudlersville, Md., which is featured in this issue starting on page 18, and Hudye Farms U.S. Inc., Burlington, Colo., to be featured in a future issue.
Not Just Big Producers.
A farmer recently asked me why we bestow this award only on "big shots.” Actually, we don't. Business success comes in all shapes and sizes; throughout the years, we've had finalists that ranged from 1,800 acres to 30,000 acres, from 300 cows to many thousands. They all share the common characteristic of an entrepreneurial spirit and strong family values, and they have taken personal and financial risks for the sake of business progress. If that is being a big shot, then I'm all for it.
Our purpose with this award is not to boost egos; it is to recognize producers who dare to act on their dreams. By meeting these producers in the pages of our magazine, even for a brief moment, we can stand on their shoulders and see a bit further.
Top Producer, March 2010