Casey and Stacey Phillips of Montgomery County were named first runners-up for the 2018 American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Excellence in Agriculture Award.
The competition took place at the AFBF Annual Convention, held Jan. 5-10 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Phillipses won the state-level Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture Award in July 2017.
The award recognizes individuals for involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.
“I think we did so well because of what we’re doing with Farm Bureau, and how we’re using Farm Bureau to contact our urban legislators,” Casey Phillips said.
He manages a dairy operation, Dry Valley Farms, with his father, and Stacey Phillips teaches special education at a local elementary school. Both are passionate about sharing information about farming through social media. Four years ago they started a pick-your-own sweet corn operation, which they market through Facebook, roadside signs and word of mouth.
“We have invited those in our area to follow the process of bringing fresh and local produce from the farm to their table,” Stacey Phillips explained. Allowing the public to come to the farm and pick corn allows them to “feel what it is like to pick their corn directly from the stalk it was grown on and not from a grocery store shelf. We’ve been happy with the conversations we have been able to have because of it.”
Stacey Phillips added that she enjoys “sharing our story on social media and letting people know what we’re doing on the farm and how we involve our boys—and confronting some of the issues or correcting some of those misconceptions that farmers face online.” The Phillipses’ farm Facebook page states that one of their goals is “to be a voice, or an `agvocate,’ for agriculture during a time in which misinformation about farming practices is abundant.”
The Phillipses also host school and scout groups on their farm and have offered tours for Virginia Tech students and in cooperation with local Virginia Cooperative Extension efforts. Additionally, they hosted a 2017 tour for the Arkansas Farm Bureau board of directors during which they explained conservation practices used on the farm.
Casey Phillips serves on the Montgomery County Farm Bureau board of directors and is vice chairman of the VFBF Young Farmers Committee. Stacey Phillips is an administrator for the committee’s social media presence. The Phillipses have two sons.
As first runners-up for the AFBF award, they will receive a Case IH 50A Farmall tractor, courtesy of Case IH.
With 127,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to supporting Virginia’s agriculture industry and preserving the Virginia way of life.
Contact Greg Hicks, VFBF vice president of communications, at 804-290-1139 or Ron Saacke, VFBF vice president of young farmers and women’s programs, at 804-290-1032.