Farming has a new face

Dixon farmer will travel across the country as spokeswoman for agriculture

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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Lee County ag literacy coordinator Katie Pratt gives a brief lesson on how milk and cheese is produced before St. Mary sixth-graders get cooking Jan. 7 at St. Mary School in Dixon. The project was part of a 4-week Ag in the Classroom session taught by Pratt.
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Katie Pratt

DIXON – Katie Pratt had a secret to keep.

Until Tuesday.

Pratt, who raises corn, soybeans and seed corn with her husband, Andy, and his parents at Grand Prairie Farms southeast of Dixon, Tuesday was named one of four Faces of Farming and Ranching in a national search for agriculture spokespeople.

Pratt learned at the end of December that she was one of four winners among nine finalists.

"I had to stay quiet for a while, but I was surprised back in November when I was named a finalist," Pratt said. "We went out to New York to meet the other finalists, and they all would have been wonderful spokespeople and I would've been very comfortable with any of them."

From Nov. 15 to Dec. 15, thousands visited fooddialogues.com to vote for those they believed best represented American agriculture. In addition to the public vote, a panel of judges from throughout the food and agriculture community interviewed and evaluated the finalists to help determine the winners.

As a Faces of Farming and Ranching winner, Pratt will receive a $10,000 stipend to help offset the time she will spend away from the farm in the coming year. She also will have the opportunity to direct a $5,000 donation to an agriculture-related charity. 

Pratt, who also is the Lee County agriculture literacy coordinator, said she would draw on her experience and industry connections to represent agriculture. Her role as a wife and mother to two children, ages 7 and 5, also will be a big help.

She already was in Arizona at the time of the announcement, visiting carrot, broccoli and herb farms.

"This is what I'm most excited about," she said. "I'm getting to have interesting conversations with farmers and others from across the country and getting their perspective."

Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said the spokespeople will help answer questions of how food gets from farm to grocery store.

"Farmers like Katie were named winners of this program because they are eager to share their stories about the innovative ways they continue to improve food production each day," Stallman said. "They have the firsthand experience to address complicated issues surrounding food production, by giving honest answers about what happens on today’s farms and ranches.”

Pratt and the other winners – Chris Chinn of Clarence, Mo., Will Gilmer of Sulligent, Ala. and Bo Stone of Rowland, N.C. – will serve 1 year.

Want to know more?

Go to fooddialogues.com for more information on the Faces of Farming and Ranching program.

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