Agriculture runs deep for national Farm Bureau prize winner Staci Anderson.
Anderson is the winner of the 2023 American Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture Award. The award comes on the heels of her being named as the Ohio winner of the Excellence in Agriculture contest for 2022.
It’s given to young Farm Bureau members, ages 18 to 35, who are agricultural enthusiasts but have not earned a majority of their income from an owned production agriculture enterprise in the past three years. They must also demonstrate an interest in improving the business of agriculture, learning new ideas and developing leadership skills.
“For me, the award is less about recognition and success, and more about accountability and authenticity. You think about these awards and probably think about someone who does so many different things and is wildly successful, while traveling all over, but that’s just not me,” Anderson said.
“The bulk of what I do is here in my hometown. For me, to whom much is given, much is required. Investing in the community, which is why I’m here today, and I’m able to have the tools, resources and skills to have an impact. For me, it’s about sharing those little things you can do at home, and the little things you can do for your community, add up to make a big difference.”
Competitors are evaluated on their understanding of agricultural issues.
Her award-winning Farm Bureau presentation had statistics and facts, but also real life examples, like a discussion she had with her children while carrying buckets for livestock feed.
“Empty, we can handle it alone, but the heaviest buckets, the heaviest loads take a team approach,” Anderson said.
There are three issues she is promoting and presented for her Farm Bureau award presentation: farm safety, renewable energy and mental health across the agricultural community.
“When it comes to farm safety, it’s not a program. It’s a culture and it’s a way of life,” Anderson said. “Farming is one of the most hazardous, dangerous industries that we have.”
Her three children are young, at 7, 5 and 3 years old. Their future figures prominently into her thoughts and beliefs.
She also pointed out that renewable energy is a polarizing topic for rural communities and Northwest Ohio.
“We need to strike balance. If we don’t find ways to look at wind and solar and all these different things, we’re going to end up dark and cold. But how do we do that, in a way that is mutually beneficial to our industry and our communities, and how do we have a seat at that table,” Anderson said.
She also recognizes the many facets of mental health in the farm community.
“Farmer suicide is an incredible issue,” Anderson said. “I think we traditionally associate such strength, pride and independence in our farm communities, so the stigma of mental health is something we’ve been working to address.”
She focused on care for the caretakers, the people who are daily affected by the needs of those dealing with mental health stresses.
“Oftentimes the people left with a lot of the burden, and the struggles, and looking for resources are not those dealing with mental health issues, it’s their caretakers,” Anderson said. “It’s not a new problem, but it’s how you address it.”
The outside stressors that weigh on the farm community include weather, finances and risk, which are unique to the farming world.
While Anderson doesn’t make the majority of her income from growing things, she is a professional in the agricultural community, with a lifetime of generational knowledge.
Her children will be sixth-generation farmers in Wood County, if they continue the family business. She lives just outside of Tontogany, with her husband, Brian, and the children. Anderson grew up on her family’s farm raising corn, soybeans, wheat and specialty crops, while participating in 4-H and FFA.
“We’ve been here 100 years or more,” Anderson said.
She is the agronomy sales manager for Legacy Farmers Cooperative, where she manages sales of all crop nutrients, chemicals, seeds and precision products. She is a graduate of Ohio State University where she earned her undergraduate degree in agribusiness and applied economics and a master’s degree in agricultural communications.
She and Brian started selling brown eggs at the Bowling Green Farmers Market in 2015. Their direct-to-consumer sales now also include meat. They now sell chicken, turkey, pork and beef. Their small herd of beef cattle is set to expand in March, from the current seven cows, with six of them calving within the next month.
“We have basically any cut of meat that you can get at the grocery,” Anderson said.
Anderson’s Farm Products can be found on social media. They recently expanded their delivery program.
The contest was held as part of the 104th American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she was awarded her prize. Anderson received a $35,000 credit toward a new Ford vehicle and paid registration to the AFBF FUSION Conference in Jacksonville, Florida, courtesy of Ford.
“For me, this achievement is about letting people like me, females and moms with an agriculture profession, know that you can still accomplish so much and be a great mom and grow your career,” Anderson said. “Ohio Farm Bureau has been such a great vehicle for me to be able to do that, and I hope that my success in this contest inspires someone else to take that chance too.”