Mar 18, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC -- Today is 2015 National Ag Day and it's a safe bet that Christian and Julie Richard, rice farmers from Kaplan, Louisiana, will always remember how they celebrated. The Richards won the National Outstanding Young Farmer (NOYF) award last year and a trip to the nation's capital was part of the award. They have spent the past few days attending various events scheduled around Ag Day, including a visit with their Congressman, Representative Charles Boustany, a meeting with USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, a luncheon with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, and a Celebration of Agriculture Dinner where they were the honored guests.
"The reception we've received from lawmakers and their staff has been fantastic," Julie said. "This was also a great opportunity to meet in a small group with the Secretary and hear his perspective on where things are going in agriculture, it was enlightening."
The Richards raise rice, soybeans, and crawfish, operating from the philosophy that conservation and farming go hand-in-hand -- and at least 25 percent of the application to the NOYF program is based on conservation practices.
"Conservation doesn't cost you a thing, it pays a dividend," Christian said. "You do it because it makes sense."
Their progressive farming practices and devotion to the future of agriculture are evident in their involvement in local and state organizations.
Christian currently serves as president of the local soil and water conservation district and is also the past president of the Louisiana Rice Growers, president of the Vermilion Parish Rice Growers, vice chairman of the state Rice Promotion Board, and a member of the parish Rice Advisory Committee. Christian is a graduate of the Rice Leadership Development Program and a Louisiana Master Farmer graduate. Julie is a former assistant director of field services for Farm Bureau and is now employed full time on the farm.
"Of course we're thrilled the Richards were recognized -- it's not just a great honor for them personally -- but also for the rice industry," said USA Rice President & CEO Betsy Ward. "Of the thousands of farmers out there who applied for this honor and surely deserve recognition, the fact that two rice growers were selected is a testament to our bright future as an industry."
The four national winners were selected from a group of 10 finalists for the award based on their progress in an agricultural career, extent of soil and water conservation practices, and contributions to the well-being of the community, state, and nation. The three other national winners are from Michigan, Ohio, and Wyoming. In addition to the trip to Washington, DC, national winners received a savings bond from corporate sponsor John Deere.
The NOYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, selecting its first group of national winners in 1955. The program is sponsored by John Deere, administered by the Outstanding Farmers of America, and supported by the U.S. Jaycees and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.
Contact: Deborah Willenborg, (703) 236-1444