Sponsored each year by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Outstanding Young Farm Family Awards Program recognizes young farmers between the ages of 18 and 35 who do an outstanding job on the farm and in the community.
Division winners representing 10 commodities were selected in February. Of those, six finalists will compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2013. The winner will be named at the Federation’s 92nd annual meeting in December.
The overall winner will receive more than $60,000 in prizes including: a nicely equipped 2014 Chevrolet or GM pickup truck, courtesy of Alfa Insurance and Alabama Farmers Federation; a John Deere Gator 825i XUV, courtesy of Alabama Farm Credit and Alabama Ag Credit; lease of a John Deere tractor, courtesy of SunSouth, TriGreen Equipment and Snead Ag dealers; and a personal computer system from Valcom Wireless/CCS Technology. Alabama’s top young farm family will represent the state in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Achievement Award competition at its January 2014 annual meeting in San Antonio.
Three division finalists are featured in this series. Look for stories on the remaining three finalists in the Fall/September issue.
When Jim and Jessica Yance step outside their home, they see more than a rural community in Henry County. Their view spans generations of hard work and a future with expanded acreage and a stronger farm.
“My grandfather built the farm from practically nothing. With my dad’s help and their collective dedication to providing for our family, they had a diversified [and pretty successful] farm,” said Jim who, with wife Jessica, is the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Outstanding Young Farm Family in the Beef Division. “I always knew I wanted to join them. I’m a farm kid, and I couldn’t ever imagine doing anything else.”
Jessica grew up near the pasture where the Yances’ registered Red Angus cattle graze on green grass. Though her parents also farmed, she wasn’t quite as sure of a future in farming.
“I love being out in the country, and I love our animals. Ten years ago, I didn’t know this would be my story, but I am so thankful for all we have and to wake up here every day,” said Jessica, who teaches kindergarten at Headland Elementary School. “I guess you could say we were born about 50 years too late. Jim and I love the simple life, raising our own food and working hard for what we have. We are truly blessed.”
The Yances, who have been married since 2006, say they are especially happy to raise two-year-old son Tye on their farm in the Haleburg Community. Though the toddler’s favorite part of the farm right now is seeing cattle every day, Jim and Jessica are hopeful he’ll grow up to become a fourth-generation farmer and have an even bigger farm to work.
Collectively, the Yances farm around 2,000 acres. In addition to owning 70 Red Angus cows and managing his dad’s 300-head commercial beef herd, they grow cotton, hay, wheat, oats and grain sorghum.
“To supplement our income, we have a registered seedstock business, which utilizes artificial insemination and embryo transfer to enhance overall quality and performance of cattle for breeding stock,” explained Jim, who serves on the Federation’s State Beef Committee. “We also harvest 15-20 steers each year for freezer beef. Not only does this allow us to offer customers high-quality meat, but it provides us with an opportunity to share our story and encourage support for other farmers.”
The Yances said they plan to utilize technology as much as possible to strengthen their practices and network with other farmers. They also plan to “beef up” their website, JYJRedAngus.com.
“Farmers all have their own experiences, struggles and solutions,” Jim said. “We can all learn something from each other by building those relationships. Sometimes the answer really is just a click away.”