|Inspired by his father’s work in the National Conservation Service, Mitchell Jones earned a degree in agronomy from Penn State and started farming on his own.|
TRENTON, N.J. -- Mitchell Jones, a 36-year old farmer in Warren County, has been named New Jersey’s 2014 Outstanding Young Farmer by the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture. He will be presented with his award at the February 2014 New Jersey State Agricultural Convention in Atlantic City.
“Mitchell Jones’ conservation practices have earned him federal and state recognition and enabled him to serve as a trainer to teach others about soil and water conservation on farms,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “He is a wonderful example of our innovative and hard-working state farmers. It is with great pride we honor Mitchell with the Outstanding Young Farmer Award.”
Jones is a first-generation farmer, whose father worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After graduating from Penn State University with a bachelor of science degree in agronomy, he rented small parcels of farmland. He expanded his rental properties and now owns a small farm. His future plans are to purchase additional ground so he is not entirely reliant on rented property.
“As I began to farm my own parcels, my father’s work with NRCS influenced how I treated the land and I tried to increase conservation measures,” said Jones. “This is how I got started and where my passion for agriculture was cultivated.”
Jones has served as president, vice president and treasurer of the Warren County Board of Agriculture; secretary and treasurer of Rutgers University Board of Managers and Warren County Fair director. An FFA member in high school, he has been a soil judging coach for the Belvidere High School FFA for 13 years.
New Jersey annually recognizes the outstanding achievements of a young farmer who is an upstanding leader, respected agriculturalist and is active in community or faith organizations. The Department of Agriculture is now accepting applications for the Year 2015 Outstanding Young Farmer (OYF) Award. The submission deadline for nominations is January 15, 2014.
Nominees must be farm operators, deriving a minimum of two-thirds of their income from farming and must be between the ages of 21 to 40, not turning 41 prior to January 1, 2015. Candidates who have a financial interest in the farm operation (a sole proprietor, partner, or a corporation) will receive higher ranking in the OYF judging process. However, nominees may also include salaried farm managers and employees who are actively involved in policy and management decisions. Submission of a financial statement is not required for state competition.
Any individual or organization can nominate deserving young farmers’ names. Persons who have been nominated in the past or previous state winners who did not make it to the national competition can be re-nominated. However, these candidates must still meet the eligibility criteria.
For more information on the state’s Outstanding Young Farmer program, visit: www.nj.gov/agriculture/about/sba/cover.html or call Karen Kritz, OYF Program Manager at (609) 984-2506 or email Karen.Kritz@ag.state.nj.us.