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2023 Young Farmer Award winners recognized

Michigan Farm Bureau’s 2023 Young Farmer Award winners are Elaine Palm (top right), Drew Bordner (bottom left) Mitch and Brandie Kline (bottom right), and Chris and Jackie Sanford (top left). Image credit: Michigan Farm Bureau
Date Posted: November 29, 2023

Every year, Michigan’s best young farmers, ages 18-35, face off in categories geared toward measuring their agricultural involvement, leadership and achievements. 

Five talented Young Farmers who competed in four categories received their awards Nov. 28 at Michigan Farm Bureau’s 104th State Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids.

They are Elaine Palm, Drew Bordner, Mitch and Brandie Kline, and Chris and Jackie Sanford.

Achievement: Mitch and Brandie Kline

Mitch and Brandi Kline - 23 Achievement Winner

The Young Farmer Achievement Award recognizes successful young farmers — individuals or couples — who derive most of their income from an owned production agriculture enterprise and showcases their achievements in the business of farming.

Mitch and Brandie Kline farm near Scotts in Kalamazoo County, raising 1,200 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. They also have a custom seed-corn harvesting business picking upwards of 2,500 acres annually.

As the state winner, Mitch and Brandie receive a lease on a Kubota tractor; a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate; and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF Annual Meeting to compete in the national competition.

The other three Achievement finalists were Matthew and Alisha Gibson (Kalamazoo County), Brayton Lehman (Ionia) and Aaron Schade (Mason).

Click here to read more about the Klines.

Employee: Drew Bordner

Drew Bordner - 23 Employee Winner

The Young Agriculture Employee Award recognizes farm employees and ag professionals for their contributions to the success of their workplace, and their leadership involvement in Farm Bureau, agriculture and the local community.

Drew Bordner works for RKA Farms, raising 2,500 acres of seed corn and row crops in Kalamazoo County. Approximately half of the acreage goes to seed corn production, with the remainder rotating between commercial corn and soybeans.

As the state winner, Bordner receives receive $5,000 off the first payment of a lease or installment on a 100-horsepower or larger tractor from GreenMark Equipment; a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate; and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF FUSION Conference. 

The other three Employee finalists were Madison Kenny (Midland County), Kyle Rasch (Ottawa) and Chelsea Smith (Missaukee).

Click here to read more about Bordner.

Leader: Elaine Palm

Elaine Palm - 23 Ag Leader

The Young Agriculture Leader Award honors successful young agriculturalists who earn most of their income from a farm operation for their outstanding leadership in Farm Bureau, farming and throughout the agricultural community.

Integral to her family’s sheep business, Elaine Palm farms with her parents — plus her husband and their young daughter when more hands are needed. They maintain a 400-head base flock for meat and breeding stock, raise forages and supply hay to nearby horse and cattle farms.

As the state winner, Palm receives a lease on a New Holland compact tractor or utility vehicle from Burnips Equipment; a $1,000 AgroLiquid Certificate; and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF FUSION Conference.

The other three Leader Award finalists were Emily Boeve (Ottawa County), John Bowsky (Sanilac) and Allison Schafer (Clinton).

Click here to read more about Palm.

Excellence: Chris and Jackie Sanford

Chris and Jackie Sanford  -  23 Excellence in Agriculture

The Excellence in Agriculture Award is designed to recognize young farmers — individuals or couples — for their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau.

Jackson County farmers Chris and Jackie Sanford operate Sanford Family Beef, raising beef cattle and pigs and selling meat cuts directly to customers from their on-farm store. Rounding out the family are sons Colt and Lane.

As the state winner, Chris and Jackie receive a three-month lease of a Michigan CAT skid-steer; a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate; and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF Annual Meeting to compete in the national competition.

The other three Excellence finalists were Marcia Cripps (St. Joseph County), Darcy Lipskey (Sanilac) and Allan Robinette (Kent).

Click here to read more about the Sanfords.

Jon Adamy

Jon Adamy

Media Relations Specialist
(517) 323-6782 [email protected]