Ben and Susan Albright of Lytton in west-central Iowa were selected national winners at the 63rd annual National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards held earlier this year in Bettendorf, Iowa. Four national winners were chosen from a group of 10 finalists based on their progress in an agricultural career, soil and water conservation practices, and contributions to the well-being of their community, state and nation.
As master of ceremonies, Orion Samuelson announced the four national winners and interviewed them for an episode of “This Week in Agribusiness.” The three other national winners for 2019 are from North Carolina, Maryland and Illinois. National winners receive a savings bond from corporate sponsor John Deere and the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., during National Ag Week in 2020.
WINNERS: Honorees this year are Brandon and Jessica Batton (left) of North Carolina; Ben and Kate Sowers of Maryland; Derek and Renee Martin of Illinois; and Ben and Susan Albright of Iowa.
“There was always work to be done,” Ben Albright says about his upbringing on a farm near Lytton. While earning a degree in ag studies with an agronomy minor at Iowa State University, Albright interned with Farmers Cooperative, Mycogen, Golden Harvest and Dow AgroSciences. He took a job with AgriGold after graduation.
In 2005, he returned to the family farm to partner with his brother. The partnership has since grown to 1,070 crop acres and a 2,300-head cattle feedlot. Adding more corn acreage has allowed the farm to absorb the risk of higher corn prices to operate the feedlots, and they further diversified when Ben had the opportunity to become a seed representative for Pioneer. After Albright added a warehouse and an office for the seed company in 2015, his wife, Susan, left her banking job to manage the books and raise their children: Aidan, Myla and Teddy.
Leadership, stewardship, community
Albright has been president of the county Farm Bureau and has been active at the state level and in the ag leaders institute. He serves on the board of the county cattlemen group, the nominating committees for Farm Credit Services, and for Farmers Cooperative and the local chamber of commerce.
Albright has been a cover crop research cooperator for Practical Farmers of Iowa and uses cover crops for winter grazing and improving soil structure and health. The Albrights also use buffer strips, grass waterways, Conservation Reserve Program windbreaks, settling basins, manure management, and nitrogen stabilizers among their conservation stewardship farming practices.
The NOYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the U.S., selecting its first group of national winners in 1955. The program is sponsored by John Deere, administered by the Outstanding Farmers of America, and supported by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and the U.S. Jaycees.