Smyth County couple named national runners-up for farming award

Smyth County couple named national runners-up for farming award
Justin and Lori McClellan of Smyth County were named first runners-up for the 2018 American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award. The competition took place at the AFBF Annual Convention, held Jan. 5-10 in Nashville, Tenn.

The Achievement Award honors young farmers who are successful in production agriculture and provide leadership on and off the farm. State-level winners from Farm Bureaus across the nation compete for the award, and judges narrow the field to 10 finalists.

The McClellans own Meadowbrook Farm, a beef cow-calf and calf feeding operation, as well as an excavation and trucking business. They have one daughter, Quinlan.

They were honored for the management of their farm operation as well as their community contributions. “We spend a lot of time traveling to other larger, cattle-producing states and other farmers’ operations,” Justin McClellan said. “We bring a lot of those ideas back home and adapt them to fit our operation.

“Those all lead to better cattle care and facilities, better feed programs and cattle management protocols—all to improve the health and well-being of our livestock and, ultimately, our profitability. Plus we take advantage of value-added marketing. Basically all of our calves are sold as all-natural calves, and that’s offering us a pretty significant premium.”

Lori McClellan added that the couple “couldn’t have done this without our farm employees—they’ve really helped us along the way—and the support of Farm Bureau.”

They won the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Achievement Award in November 2017. Justin McClellan serves on the Smyth County Farm Bureau board of directors as well as the boards of his local Southern States Cooperative and the Evergreen Soil and Water Conservation District.

The McClellans were honored with a Virginia Clean Water Farm Grand Basin award in 2015 from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for their efforts to protect the environment on their property.

In their spare time, they enjoy competing in rodeos and riding horses on national forest land adjacent to their farm. “We host a lot of rodeos in the community, a lot of ranch rodeos and horse shows, so we’re pretty involved in giving back to the community that way,” Justin McClellan said. “Lori has a horse certified for equine therapy, and she used to do a whole lot of visits to the Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute. She also helps at the horse shows that are mostly to benefit the community and some nonprofits and raise a little bit of money for them.”

As national Achievement Award runners-up, the McClellans will receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor, courtesy of Case IH.

With 127,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to supporting Virginia’s agriculture industry and preserving the Virginia way of life.

Contact Greg Hicks, VFBF vice president of communications, at 804-290-1139 or Ron Saacke, VFBF vice president of young farmers and women’s programs, at 804-290-1032.

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