Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Program: Wisconsin couple named National Outstanding Young Farmers

Philip and Laura Finger of Oconto, Wisconsin, were selected national winners for 2021 at the annual  National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress held Feb. 3-6 in Hilton Head Island, South  Carolina. Four national winners were selected for the award based on their progress in an agricultural  career, extent of soil and water conservation practices, and contributions to the well-being of the  community, state, and nation. Guest Master of Ceremonies Tom Steever of Brownfield Ag News  announced the four national winners for 2022 and 2021 after last year’s event was postponed. The  three other national winners for 2021 are from Georgia, New Jersey, and New Mexico. National winners  received a savings bond from corporate sponsor John Deere and the opportunity to travel to represent  the NOYF at future agricultural events. 

Philip and Laura Finger of Oconto, WI, operate a dairy and grow alfalfa, corn, and soybeans on a fifth generation farm. Concentrating on meeting milk production goals by emphasizing cattle comfort and  genetic selection along with improving soil quality have been top priorities for the Fingers, who both  hold degrees in Dairy Science. Striving for a goal of seven pounds per cow of fat and protein components  

in the milk per day, the Fingers utilize technology such as collars to monitor estrus activity and genomic  monitoring through DNA tissue samples. Laura focuses on calf development, manages the parlor, and  oversees facility maintenance. The Fingers strive to present a positive face for agriculture through social  media and believe that the role of farmers is to build soil. A comprehensive nutrient management  program, three separate manure storage facilities, and grass strips to prevent erosion are all  components of their conservation program with an ultimate goal of making the farm sustainable for the  next generation, children Alana, PJ, Alisa, and Alivia. 

The NOYF program is the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States, selecting its first group  of national winners in 1955. The program is sponsored by John Deere, administered by the Outstanding  Farmers of America (OFA), and supported by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents and  the U.S. Jaycees.