The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau selected Tommy and Tracy Nagle of Patton as winners of the 2013 Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award during the bureau’s 63rd annual meeting last week in Hershey.
The award honors the couple or individual between the ages of 18 and 35 who demonstrates outstanding farming and leadership achievements.
The contestants were evaluated by a panel of judges on the basis of their farm operation, with emphasis on the farm’s growth and financial progress and the applicant’s record of leadership within and outside of the farm bureau.
The Nagles manage 170-head of beef cattle and grow 650 acres of grains including corn, soybeans, barley and hay.
“This is a great honor for us because it tells us that we are
on the right track in running a successful operation,” Tommy Nagle said.
He said his father, a funeral director in Gallitzin, did not farm, but he credits his grandfather Joseph Davis for instilling the desire to own his own farm.
“I was raised in a small town by both parents and took every opportunity, starting at the age of 4, to accompany my grandfather to the family farm, where I would ride in the tractors and be eager to help feed the animals,” Nagle said. “This sparked my love for farming and the desire to own the farm I run today.”
Nagle’s uncle, Dan Davis, still operates his grandfather’s farm, and the families continue to work closely together.
While holding several full-time jobs after graduating from St. Francis College in Loretto with a degree in accounting, Nagle worked for six years as director of purchasing for a poultry company. He continued working on building his farm, eventually becoming a full-time farmer in 2010.
“The Nagles have demonstrated the drive and determination that is often needed for young farmers to succeed in a challenging industry. A key for the Nagles is that they are continually looking ahead to improve the overall value of the family farm,” said Carl T. Shaffer, state farm bureau president.
The Nagles, who have a daughter, Abigail, 3, and son, Brady,
8 months, say they would like to expand the farm to 3,000 acres and 250 brood cows while continuing to improve cattle quality.
“Profitability is the first way we measure the operation,” Nagle said. “I also evaluate the improvement of the quality of beef we produce.”
As a young farmer, Nagle knows the value of using the latest technology to make his operation more productive.
“I have special computer programs to track cows and calves as well as monitoring the agriculture side of things that translates into better management decisions,” he said.
Nagle, 34, is president of the Cambria County Farm Bureau and has chaired its policy development committee.
By winning the Achievement Award, the Nagles receive $500 from General Motors, $100 from Safemark, $100 from MSC Business Services, an expense-paid trip to the state farm bureau’s 2014 State Leadership Conference and other gifts.
Nagle said the prize he is looking forward to the most is free use of a new tractor from Case IH for one year.
“It will help me use my time better, especially when it comes to changing implements to do other jobs with a tractor,” he said.
The Nagles also will receive free registration and lodging for the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th annual meeting in January 2014 in San Antonio, Texas, where they will compete for national honors.
Hundreds of farmers from across Pennsylvania attended the farm bureau’s meeting to set policy for the statewide organization on issues affecting farm and rural families.
Tom Lavis covers Features for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter.com/Tom LavisTD.