Beginning Farmers Build Bright Futures - Farm Credit Announces FreshRoots Directors Cup Honorees

2021 Directors Cup RecipientsThe Directors Cup presented by the cooperative Board of Directors celebrates young and beginning farmers committed to continuous learning and intentional living for a brighter future for their farm family business and community. Honorees receive $5,000 and a commemorative keepsake.

Cooperative members were selected by a panel of seven industry representatives– including one FCI Board member – based on a combination of each applicant’s unique farm beginnings, personal and business aspirations, and passion for building a brighter future for their farm business and community.

The Directors Cup award is part of the FreshRoots young and beginning farmers program, which provides lending assistance and learning incentives to farmers up to age 40 or in their first 10 years of farming.

 “Today’s newest farmers need a resilient business mind and commitment to lifelong learning – especially in today’s volatile economy,” says Eric Mosbey, FCI Board Chair. “The Board of Directors celebrates the determination these beginning farmers display while developing ground-breaking skills and practices to invest in their futures.”

 “FCI delivers cooperative value and support for beginning farmers prioritizing personal growth and professional development through the FreshRoots learning incentives and lending assistance,” says Aaron Johnson, FCI president and CEO. “The Directors Cup is another tangible way FCI is Helping the Next Generation of Farm Families Succeed.”

 The following beginning farmers were selected as 2021 Directors Cup honorees:

Austin EllisonAustin Ellison of Belleville (St. Clair County) is a third generation farmer raising alfalfa, oats, wheatlage, and timothy and fescue hay. Ellison, 23, operates his own independent contractor business – Austin M Ellison Excavation. He began farming in 2016 as the sole proprietor of his hay operation. He partners with his father on his family’s grain farm and makes management and marketing decisions and assists during planting and harvesting and with grain deliveries.

Mitchell HindsMitchell Hinds of Kenney (Macon County) is a fourth generation corn and soybean farmer. Hinds, 25, began farming in 2012 and transitioned ownership from his grandfather to become the farm’s sole proprietor in 2015. He is also the highway commissioner for Austin Township and sells for Stone Seed and Frontline Ag Solutions. He is married to Bailee.

Lydia and Adam HolsteLydia and Adam Holste of Altamont (Effingham County) are third generation corn, soybean, and wheat farmers. They work with Lydia’s grandmother, parents, uncle, sister, and brother-in-law. Adam also sells DEKALB Asgrow seed and Climate FieldView. Lydia, 30, and Adam, 34, began farming full-time in 2013 and have three children – Aiden, Lane, and Addie – and are expecting a daughter in July.

Michael StrohbeckJacob Strohbeck of Alton (Madison County) is a sixth generation corn, soybean, and alfalfa farmer. He is the sole proprietor of his own operation and assists his parents – sharing equipment and labor. Strohbeck, 28, began part-time farming in 2012 and holds a full-time position as the Foster Township road commissioner and is a custom operator. He is engaged to Marissa Phillips.

Elliott UphoffElliott Uphoff of Shelbyville (Shelby County) is a fifth generation corn and soybean farmer. Uphoff, 30, began farming in 2013, sells seed for DEKALB Asgrow, and partners with his father for equipment and labor. He and his wife Hailey have one daughter – Madeline.

Michael YoderMichael Yoder of Hammond (Moultrie County) is a fifth generation corn, soybean, and wheat farmer. Yoder, 30, began farming in 2013 after serving in the Air Force and partners with his grandfather and father. He and his wife Brittany have two daughters – Addison and Lucy.



About Farm Credit Illinois

Farm Credit Illinois (FCI) is a farmer-owned and directed agricultural cooperative serving 16,000 farmer, rural landowner, and agribusiness voting stockholder members in the southern 60 counties of Illinois. Dedicated to Helping Farm Families Succeed, FCI provides competitive and flexible financing, crop insurance expertise, and Rural 1st® country life lending. FCI manages a $4.8 billion loan portfolio, sells 1.4 million acres of crop insurance coverage, and employs 244 staff based in the Mahomet headquarters and 14 regional office locations. The Association delivered additional cooperative value by returning $40 million of 2020 earnings as cash patronage to member-owners in 2021. The U.S. Farm Credit System supports rural communities, farm families, and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial 



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