The nomination period has ended for 2020 and the Farmfest staff have selected five incredible women in agriculture as candidates for Woman Farmer of the Year! See their amazing contributions to ag below.
Register for the Women in Ag Event on August 6 to find out more about this dedicated group of women and who will be named the first Farmfest Woman Farmer of the Year.
Becky Swenson, Howard Lake, MN
Becky owns a Peony farm in Howard Lake, Minnesota called Swenson Gardens – the world’s largest chemical free grower and hybridizer of peonies. She also raises a herd of Dexter cattle and works more than 50 hours a week on the farm. If that wasn’t enough, she dedicates time to health and fitness as a personal strength trainer. Becky contributes her time to the ag community as well. During her winter months, Becky does presentations at various University of Minnesota Extension events. She shares her peony bouquets of love with local, long-term care facilities and was a founder of the Wright County 4H club called the Lucky Loons.
Chandra Pagel, Eyota, MN
Chandra grows alfalfa, haylage and corn and raises beef and dairy cattle with her husband on her farm. In addition to working 40+ hours a week on farm and farm-related activities, Chandra is also a special education teacher and teaches English to kids around the world online. She works mostly on calf care, feeding and milking. She leads the “Fun with a Farmer” program for Olmsted County Farm Bureau, has served on the YF&R committee and shares her farm story across her widely-viewed Instagram account.
Sarah Kushcel, Sebeka, MN
Sarah grows alfalfa, hay and corn and raises beef cattle and equine on a forth-generation cattle operation – Rocking K Ranch. In addition to spending 40 hours a week on the farm and raising 3 children alongside her husband, Sarah is the regional curriculum specialist for Minnesota Ag in the Classroom. During her ranch time, Sarah contributes to animal care, herd health and records, breeding stock selection, payroll and office administration, parts runner, and organizing the work crew.
Julie Sahr, Bricelyn, MN
Julie is partner and owner of Sahrside Dairy with her husband where she grows corn and alfalfa and raises dairy cows, calves, replacements and horses. Julie works 60+ hours on the farm each week and in addition, uses her farm as a beautiful backdrop for her portrait and wedding photo studio. Julie specializes in keeping the books for the dairy, farm and trucking company along with the employee records, benefits and quarterly reports and filings. Julie was an active 4-H leader, is active on the board of her youth group and has served on her county Farm Bureau board and the local dairy committee for many years.
Makayla Nepp, Winnebago, MN
Makayla Nepp grows corn, soybeans and sweet corn and raises hogs on her farm. She works directly on ag production 40 hours a week while also contributing to farm related activities. She is a multi-generational farmer and raises her three children alongside her husband. Makayla aids in the hog barns, assists during planting and harvest and brings a fresh set of eyes and inventive ideas to the family farm. She directly impacts the farm with continual research to improve efficiency, animal health and productivity.
Women in Ag Event & Award Ceremony
Join Farmfest's virtual Women in Ag event on August 6 at 10:30 a.m. to hear an inspiring and informative keynote address from AFB Women's Leadership Committee Chair, Sherry Saylor. Then, join Farmfest for the recognition ceremony to hear more about the top 5 nominees as they honor their commitments to ag and watch as they award the Farmfest Woman Farmer of the Year.