Michigan Farm Bureau 2021 Young Farmer Achievement Award winner Ashley Kennedy is being recognized for her accomplishments as she advanced to the top 10 finalists for the national award at American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual conference in Atlanta.
The Young Farmer Achievement Award recognizes successful young farmers who derive most of their income from an owned production agriculture enterprise and showcases their achievements in the business of farming.
Kennedy milks 240 head alongside her husband Eric at their farm outside Bad Axe, which also boasts about 600 replacement heifers, 60 steers and 240 acres of corn and hay.
In her 28-page application for the award, Kennedy shared all the details of her operation, including a deep dive into her farm’s finances, which are a key aspect of the judges’ review.
Kennedy handles everything from herd care and employee management to recordkeeping and field work. Technology plays a big role in the operation’s prosperity, with four robotic milkers and automated feeding systems.
“Building the feeder barn meant completely changing how we manage calves,” Kennedy said. “I hope that my story can show that automation can help small- and medium-size farms keep operating.”
The farm is a study in measured generational transition, with Kennedy and her husband gradually taking ownership one component at a time, along with taking on equipment investments and building projects.
Future goals include further diversification and moving toward more direct-to-consumer marketing of niche products like heirloom beans and Wagyu beef.
“I’ve learned so much through this process, and it’s truly an honor to be considered with so many other talented farmers from across the country,” Kennedy added.
As the state winner, Kennedy received a Kubota tractor; a $1,000 AgroLiquid gift certificate; up to $1,000 of business/estate consultation from Clark Hill; and an all-expense paid trip to the AFBF Annual Meeting to compete in the national competition, sponsored by the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture.