Young farmers and ranchers are cultivating a bright future for agriculture and for Texas. This year’s Outstanding Young Farmer & Rancher (YF&R) finalists recognized by Texas Farm Bureau share a drive, dedication and passion for agriculture. Each year, TFB’s Outstanding YF&R competition recognizes the accomplishments of some of the state’s top agricultural leaders between the ages of 18 and 35 and rewards them for their hard work, dedication and determination. The 2023 finalists are Jay and Francie Clark of Brownwood, Cassidy and Hailey Hayes of Port Lavaca and Kade and Morgan Hodges of Sterling City.
“We are proud of these farmers and ranchers who represent a bright future for agriculture and the next generation of Texas Farm Bureau leaders,” said TFB President Russell Boening.
Cassidy & Hailey Hayes
Cassidy and Hailey grow corn, cotton, soybeans and raise show pigs and steers for 4-H and FFA students to exhibit at local, state and national shows. They have 90 sows used primarily for the production of show pigs and have a small American-cross cattle herd.
In addition to farming and raising livestock, Cassidy is a corn seed dealer and judges livestock shows across the nation. Hailey is an Agriculture and Natural Resources County AgriLife Extension agent in Calhoun County. Cassidy serves as the Calhoun County Farm Bureau president, and Hailey was a member of AgLead XV, TFB’s premier ag leadership program. The couple are both involved in state YF&R events and county activities. Cassidy and Hailey are also active in their local community and assist 4-H and FFA students with livestock projects. They live in Port Lavaca with their son.
Jay & Francie Clark
Jay and Francie raise beef cattle and hair sheep, as well as operate a feedyard in Brown County. The couple also have an event venue on their ranch—The Homestead at Clark Ranch. They have adapted their fifth-generation ranch to a constantly changing market and are focusing on regenerative principles. They utilize marketing programs like the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards and certification to maximize profitability.
Jay serves on the Brown County Farm Bureau board of directors, is the county’s YF&R chair and on the TFB YF&R and TFB’s Sheep and Goat Advisory Committees. Jay was a member of AgLead XV, TFB’s premier ag leadership program. The couple is also active in numerous local boards and organizations and live in Brownwood with their three children.
Kade & Morgan Hodges
Kade and Morgan raise sheep, goats and Angus-cross cattle. They also formulate rations and mix feed for their feedlot where they finish out a portion of their sheep and goats each year.
Kade is a sixth-generation rancher whose family has been ranching in the same area since 1889. Morgan was also raised in a family deeply rooted in agriculture. Together, the couple implement sustainable management practices, such as rotational grazing, on their ranch and continually evaluate new research and technology to introduce to their business.
The couple serves on Coke-Sterling County Farm Bureau board of directors and are actively involved in YF&R events and activities at the county, state and national level. Morgan also serves on the TFB YF&R Advisory Committee. Kade and Morgan also are part of commodity organizations and active members of their church. The couple lives in Sterling City.
The winner will be announced at the TFB Annual Meeting in Frisco and will receive a $60,000 member-dealer voucher to be used at Ford, Case IH, Grasshopper, CAT or John Deere, courtesy of Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Companies; and expense-paid trips to the TFB Annual Meeting and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Annual Convention.
Two runners-up will receive $500 cash award, courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company; and an expense-paid trip to the TFB Annual Meeting.
The state winner will advance to compete in the national contest hosted by AFBF. Information on the contest and TFB’s YF&R program can be found online at texasfarmbureau.org/YFR.