Lillie Beringer, 25, of Cascade, Iowa was named the first-place winner of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) “Grow Your Future” Award during the 2022 IFBF Young Farmer Conference, held Jan. 28-29.
The Grow Your Future Award promotes young agriculturalists, ages 18-35, with a niche market, agritourism, ag services or specialty business. As the 2022 winner, Beringer will take home the top cash prize of $7,500 to grow her direct-to-consumer beef business.
Beringer, who also works off-farm as an animal nutritionist, recently purchased her grandfather’s farm where her Angus herd grazes in the summer. To chronicle her farm adventures, she started her own Facebook page—Beringer Family Farms. What began as a way to share her story with people unfamiliar with animal agriculture turned into a business when someone asked, “Can I buy beef from you?”
Beringer Family Farms, just celebrating its first year in business, sells 21-day, dry-aged Angus cuts from tomahawk steaks and sirloins to meat bundles. Beef sold through Beringer’s website is available for pickup at her farm or shipped direct to all 50 states. With her Grow Your Future Award winnings, Beringer plans to purchase a walk-in cooler to store more of her product.
“The Grow Your Future Award allowed me to share my story and financially take my beef sales to the next level with increased freezer space,” says Beringer. “I enjoyed networking with like-minded, young farmer entrepreneurs and am truly humbled by this opportunity and constant support.”
Jade Moret of Holland Flower Farm in Sioux County won the $5,000 second-place prize to add a hoop house to extend her growing season. Moret specializes in custom-cut flowers, selling through farmers markets, flower “subscriptions,” private floral arrangement workshops and bulk blooms for events. Taking home $2,500 is Woodbury County’s Melissa Nelson whose business Hungry Canyon creates agriculturally-accurate greeting cards, gifts and apparel. Nelson also has a special collection—Wait for Me—to promote child safety on the farm with proceeds going to families whose children have been killed or injured in a farm-related incident.
“Our top three finalists were completely different businesses. Their passion and business acumen for their profession was evident,” says Amanda Van Steenwyk, IFBF farm business development manager. “I think it is a glowing example of the diversity of Iowa agriculture, and Iowa Farm Bureau is proud to highlight those willing to seek those alternative paths which strengthen our state’s strong agricultural heritage and portfolio.”
The award process began in September of 2021. Young entrepreneurs submitted applications and a short video introducing themselves and their business, the impact of the business on the local community and future goals. Five finalists were selected, and public voting during the IFBF Annual Meeting narrowed the field to three entrepreneurs who competed in a live “pitch-off” in front of nearly 500 young farmers during the IFBF Young Farmer Conference.To learn more about the IFBF Grow Your Future Award for young farmers, visit www.iowafarmbureau.com/GrowYourFuture.