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The finalists in Arkansas Farm Bureau’s annual Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award and Excellence in Agriculture Award have been announced. The awards honor young farmers and ranchers between the ages of 18-35 for the general excellence of their operations, their hard work and innovation. Among them are two Lafayette County residents.

The winners of the state awards will be announced at the organization’s annual Officers & Leaders Conference at the Embassy Suites in Hot Springs, July 22-23.

The Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers in Arkansas who have excelled in their farming/ranching operations and exhibited outstanding leadership abilities. The award is designed for an individual or couple involved full-time in production agriculture with a majority of their income subject to normal production risks.

The 2019 Achievement Award finalists are:

Drew and Laura Davis of Bono (Craighead County). The Davis’ farm 1900 acres of rice, soybeans and corn. They also are partners in a cattle operation and provide contract hauling. They have two children, Kate and Luke.

Jeremy and Tracie Kitchens of Lewisville (Lafayette County). The Kitchens have a cattle and swine operation and grow corn, wheat, soybeans and hay. They also have a custom meat market where they sell directly to the customer. They have one son, Gage.

Mark and Shay Morgan of Clarksville (Johnson County). The Morgans own Peach Pickin Paradise, a 3,500-tree orchard specializing in “u-pick” and ag tourism. They also have a cow-calf operation and are involved in the family turkey operation. They have two children, Kate and Luke.

The winner will receive a $35,000 cash prize and a trip in January to the American Farm Bureau Convention in Austin, Texas to compete for the national award. The two runners-up receive $5,000.

The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who actively contribute to and grow through their involvement in agriculture and Farm Bureau. The award is designed for an individual or couple who do not earn the majority of their income through farming.

The 2019 Excellence in Agriculture Award finalists are:

Michael and Monica Paskewitz of Melbourne (Izard County). The Paskewitzs’ cattle business is a cow-calf operation of Angus cross cows. Monica works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Izard Co and Micheal is Staff Chair of the Izard Co. Cooperative Extension Service. They have two daughters, Maddie and Maylee.

Jared and Michelle Pass of Hartford (Crawford County). The Pass family owns and operates Pass Farms and Mountain View Ranch, a 200-acre farm where they raise cattle, horses, chickens, goats and grow hay. Jared is employed at Westark Plumbing and Michelle is a licensed therapist. They have two sons, Brody and Blain, and one daughter, Bristol.

Matt and Terrie Shekels of Harrison (Boone County). The Shekels’ cattle operation consists of a herd of 50 purebred Angus cattle and 20 registered black Angus. They also have an artificial insemination/embryo transfer business. Matt is a professor at the College of the Ozarks and Terrie is a registered nurse. They have three boys Andrew, Caleb and Aaron.

The winner of the Excellence in Agriculture Award will receive $11,000 cash prize and a trip to the 2020 American Farm Bureau Convention to compete for the national award. The two runners-up will receive $1,500.

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