Outstanding Farmer of the Year Award
This annual award, presented by OCIA R&E, recognizes an organic farmer for their achievements in organic agriculture.  Their farming practices are then communicated to OCIA members and the public.

The Outstanding Organic Farmer of the Year is a yearly award honoring and recognizing talented producers who have certified to the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) level of excellence, for at least five years.

wheat1OCIA International is one of the world’s foremost organic groups, with offices in Canada, the United States, Latin America, and Asia. OCIA Research and Education, Inc., a charitable organization founded by members of OCIA International developed the award program to honor and showcase talented producers who excel in cropping and livestock practices, who are good stewards of the natural environment and who are committed to the organic community.

Apply for the Farmer of the Year Award
Click here to download the Farmer of the Year Application. You will need Adobe Reader to view this file.

Outstanding Farmer of the Year Award: This annual award, presented by OCIA R&E, recognizes an organic farmer for their achievements in organic agriculture.  Their farming practices are then communicated to OCIA members and the public.



2017 Farmer of the Year
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Awards - Outstanding Farmer of the Year Award
Seth and Loretta Smith from Nemaha, Iowa were recognized as the 2017 OCIA R&E Outstanding Organic Farmer of the Year.  On their farm (Coon River Farms, Inc) they grow a corn, soybean, oats, alfalfa, and cover crop rotation.  They also run 190 beef cow/calf pairs and finish beef cattle in their 2,000 hd feedlot.  Seth believes that his compost is the major component of his soil building strategy.  Planting a variety of crops including covers, builds the soil by feeding the microbes.  Using a variety of farming strategies like shallow undercutting of hay crops to terminate them, ridgetill, and shallow spring tillage provide a variety for their soils and its inhabitants.  Seth stays active in his local OCIA Iowa Chapter #1 and has served as past president on their board.  He has hosted several field days and was chosen by Farm Credit Services to be in an ad campaign to connect urban consumers with farmers.  Their family picture and story are on Tastee O cereal boxes at Hy-Vee.
Last Updated on Monday, 10 April 2017 15:53
 
2016 Farmer of the Year
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Awards - Outstanding Farmer of the Year Award
Mike and Karen Ostry from Bruno, Nebraska were chosen as the 2016 OCIA R&E Outstanding Organic Farmer of the Year.  The Ostry children are the sixth generation on Wagon Wheel Farm in Nebraska, which has been certified organic by OCIA since 1992.  Mike continues to recover from surgery when a brain tumor was removed and left him blind.  The entire family pitches in to rotate corn, soybeans, oats, field peas, flax, wheat and clover.  They also raise a garden, hogs, cattle, and poultry.  Mike and Karen have been very active in the OCIA Nebraska #1 Chapter.  Mike has served numerous terms on their board, finishing his last term in 2015.  And during several chapter meetings, the Ostrys have prepared the meal for all attendees and hosted on-farm tours.  They have consulted many on how to involve youth in summer jobs, direct marketing, and money-making projects on what youth can do on farms.       
Last Updated on Monday, 10 April 2017 15:47
 
2015 Farmer of the Year
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Awards - Outstanding Farmer of the Year Award
The late Steve Elliott, from Ohio Chapter #2, was recognized as the 2015 OCIA R&E Outstanding Organic Farmer of the Year.  OCIA certified since 1994, Steve practiced no-till farming and had a crop rotation that included soybeans (both food and feed grade), corn, sunflowers, clover, alfalfa, buckwheat, spelt, oats, wheat and chickpeas.  Steve also operated a cleaning plant that cleaned organic grain for several farmers.

According to Ben Bender, fellow Ohio chapter member, "Steve had a vast knowledge of what to do for cover crops, weed control, how to cultivate, and what's approved or disapproved for organic farming.  But I don't think his best quality was just his knowledge of farming, it was also his willingness to take time and help a fellow farmer with the many questions about different techniques."

Steve served on OCIA International's Board of Directors, Promotions Committee, Bylaws Committee, and several others throughout the years.  He was President of the Ohio Farmers Union in Marion County and Secretary/Treasurer of his local, OCIA Ohio Chapter #2.  

"He was one of a kind.  His shoes will be hard to fill.  As a fellow farmer said, we have lost a giant in the organic farming community,"  Ben Bender said. 
Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 16:52
 
2014 Farmer of the Year
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Awards - Outstanding Farmer of the Year Award
kavan photo
Click on 2014 Farmer of the Year to read more about Bernard and Sharon Kavan, who OCIA Research and Education recognized as outstanding farmers at their annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas on February 7th.
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 14:46
 
2013 Farmer of the Year
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Awards - Outstanding Farmer of the Year Award
 
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Click on 2013 Farmer of the Year to read more about Keith and Monica Neu, who OCIA Research and Education recognized as outstanding farmers at their annual meeting in Nebraska City, NE. 
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 14:38
 
2012 Farmer of the Year
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Awards - Outstanding Farmer of the Year Award
  Lyle
Click on 2012 Farmer of the Year to read more about Lyle & Robyn Hamann, who OCIA Research and Education recognized as outstanding farmers at their annual meeting in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  
Last Updated on Friday, 07 March 2014 15:01
 
2011 OCIA Farmer of the Year
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Awards - Outstanding Farmer of the Year Award

PICT0107OCIA Research and Education recognizes Kevin Beach from Ernfold, Saskatchewan and OCIA Chapter #8, as the Outstanding Organic Farmer of 2011. Kevin and Donna Beach have been OCIA certified since 1989. During that time, they have grown hard red wheat, spring wheat, oats, lentils, oats, fall rye, kamut, sweet clover and alfalfa.

When asked to describe a crop rotation, Kevin replies, “it seems easy to extract from literature the proper rotation to facilitate the best results which produce quality, maintain soil fertility and be diverse enough to avoid diseases. The one huge unknown in the equation is nature’s influence. A rotation plan has to have flexibility at its core or it won’t work.”

Generally, Beach admits that a cereal grain followed by a legume crop or a weed plow down and green fallow, then a different type of cereal is what they practice. An oilseed such as flax has also worked well in the past after their plow down crop.

According to Beach, over the last few years there has been an increase in perennial weeds which are hard to control with an extended crop rotation. The Beach family has changed their cropping practices to include some extra tillage (green fallow) in order to keep the weeds better under control. Beach also tries to time tillage operations and seed at times to achieve optimum germination of the crop. Pre and post emergent harrowing is also practiced.

The Beach family also raise beef cattle. They are a mix of Hereford and Angus, the predominant breed being Angus. Cattle are an integral part of the Beach farm because of the nature of their topography – parts are rugged and unsuitable for cultivation. The Beaches have established tree rows over the years, try not to over graze native prairie and are non-invasive in regards to their wetlands and natural shrubs. Kevin has also set up two watering systems in the pasture which provide water for the livestock in a trough rather than allowing them direct contact with the reservoir. One system allows gravity to feed water to the trough and the other has a pump which the animals pump with their nose.

Beach is heavily involved with his local OCIA Chapter. He first joined Saskatchewan #2 and served as Chapter President for two years. When Saskatchewan #8 formed, Kevin served as Chair of the Certification Committee for approximately ten years and then as Chair of the Nominating Committee.

In addition to OCIA, Kevin has served as Director of Organic Products Marketing Information System (a Provincial trial organization to connect sellers with buyers) and Director of the Canadian Organic Livestock Association (a non-profit producer group). Kevin has also served as the secretary of the Ernfold Sask. Wheat Pool Committee when the Ernfold grain elevator became the first organic elevator in the province.

The Beach Farm has been the focus of many books on organic farming and livestock.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 February 2011 10:16