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Applications Being Accepted for 2008 Honors
For Immediate Release: September 21, 2006
Lynne Richmond           
(609) 633-2954           

(TRENTON) – The New Jersey Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the Year 2008 Outstanding Young Farmer (OYF) Award.  The submission deadline for nominations is January 15, 2007.  The award recognizes the outstanding achievements of a young Garden State farmer who is an upstanding leader, respected agriculturalist and is active in community or church organizations.

“By recognizing a young person engaged in farming for his or her efforts, we hope to encourage them to continue to farm and contribute to the community and industry to help sustain agriculture in the future,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus.  “Today’s farmer is a skilled entrepreneur in a complex business world who must understand all aspects of farming, including production, processing, marketing and distribution, plant or animal technology, economics, mechanics and engineering, natural resources and environmental technology, politics, sociology and in some cases, international relations and trade.”

Nominees must be actual farm operators, deriving a minimum of two-thirds of their income from farming and must be between the ages of 21-40, not becoming 41 prior to January 1, 2008.  Candidates who have a financial interest in the farm operation (a sole proprietor, partners, or a corporation) will receive higher ranking in the OYF judging process. However, nominees also may include salaried farm managers and employees who are actively involved in policy and management decisions.  Submission of a financial statement is not required for state competition.

A panel of three judges will review each nominee’s application based on the following criteria: progress in their agricultural career (50 percent of the total score); soil and water conservation practices (25 percent of the total score); and contribution to his/her community, state and nation (25 percent of the total score).

Any individual or organization can nominate deserving young farmer’s names. Persons who have been nominated in the past or previous state winners who went to the National competition but did not receive a National OYF Award can be re-nominated. However, these candidates must still meet the eligibility criteria.

Each year, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture recognizes the outstanding achievement of a young farmer, both in the agriculture industry and in the community.  New Jersey's Outstanding Young Farmer winner for 2007 is Peter L. Melick, a fruit, vegetable, flowers, cider, wholesale and retail, and pick-your-own farmer from Oldwick, Hunterdon County. He was nominated by the Hunterdon County Board of Agriculture and will compete for one of the top four National OYF Awards.

Since the US Jaycees bestowed the first award, four New Jersey farmers’ names have been added to the National OYF Honor Roll. They include Abbott Lee (1985), James B. Giamarese (1989), Robert Von Thun, Jr. (2001) and Jeffrey VanderGroef (2005).

The OYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, selecting its first group of national winners in 1955, and is administered by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce. The goals of the OYF program are to foster better urban-rural relations through the understanding of farmers’ challenges, as well as the appreciation of their contributions and achievements; to bring about a greater interest in farmers/ranchers; and to help build an urban awareness of the farmers’ importance and impact on America’s economy.  The OYF program encourages a greater interest in agriculture through the appreciation of the farmers’ contributions and achievements and recognizes local citizens’ contributions and encourages better urban-rural relations. The National OYF program is sponsored by Deere & Company, supported by the Outstanding Farmers of America (OFA) Fraternity and the National Association of County Agriculture Agents (NACAA), and administered by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce

The Official State Nomination Form can be accessed on the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s web site at

If you have any questions on the OYF program or the nomination procedure or need a nomination form, contact Karen Kritz, New Jersey OYF Program Manager at (609) 984-2506, by facsimile (609) 341-3212 or e-mail at