Bayer CropScience celebrated its fifth Young Sustainable Farmer Award Recipient and announced the winner of the inaugural Bayer CropScience Produce Innovation Award at the company's 2015 Ag Issues Forum in Phoenix, Ariz.

Andrew Fansler is a rare commodity these days—a first-generation farmer whose farming career was born from a passion for the soil, for growing things, and for the lifestyle and value system, which are part of agriculture.  Fansler is also the newly-minted winner of the 2015 Young Farmer Sustainablility Award presented by Bayer CropScience, and part of a growing cadre of young, ambitious farmers committed to making sustainable agricultural and business practices a priority as they tackle the challenge of producing ever more food, feed and fiber for a growing world population.

Each year, Bayer recognizes an agricultural producer age 40 or under who demonstrates entrepreneurial initiative and new approaches to farming, sustainability efforts and economic stability. The 36-year-old Fansler, owner of Fansler Farms of Shelbyville, Indiana, received the award today during the 10th annual Ag Issues Forum, a Bayer CropScience-hosted thought-leadership event.

“When I think about sustainability, what comes to mind are the many ways we as agriculture producers must strive to sustain not only profitability, but the factories in which we work - our land,” says Fansler.  “Sustainability to me means being both financially sustainable and biologically sustainable.  I strive to sustain and better everything I do!”

Fansler Farms is a 4,600-acre grain operation producing soybean seed for national seed companies, conventional beans for export, yellow and white food-grade corn for the food processing industry and commodity corn.  Fansler founded his business in 1995 on 42 rented acres at the age of just 16, trading labor for the equipment he needed to plant his first crop.  Twenty years later, today Fansler Farms employs six additional staff members, and is a high-performance, multi-million dollar operation built around sustainable farming and business practices.

Some of the primary environmental sustainability measures employed by Fansler and his team in the field include no-till, crop rotations and environmentally-friendly nutrition practices, fueled by a desire to reduce the operation’s footprint and enhance the quality of the land and soil farmed.  On top of no-till, Fansler utilizes cover crops to improve soil nutrition and actively manages nutrient usage through variable-rate planting, soil testing, tissue sampling, GPS-guided fertility application and yield monitoring.  He is an active participant in the Conservation Stewardship Program, utilizing CRP grassed waterways and buffer strips, and he invests heavily in field tiling and other land improvements as needed each year.

Andrew Fansler is the fifth recipient of the Young Farmer Sustainability Award, joining 2014 honoree Bryan Boll, 2013 winner Jeremy Jack; John Shepherd, 2012; and Ryan Kirby, first recipient of the award in 2011.

Bayer CropScience Produce Innovation Award

Chalmers R. Carr III, owner and president of Titan Farms in Ridge Springs, S.C., is the recipient of the inaugural Bayer CropScience Produce Innovation Award. Carr was presented the award at the 2015 Ag Issues Forum hosted by Bayer CropScience in Phoenix.

A first-generation farmer, Carr manages 6,100 acres of peaches, peppers and broccoli on an operation that spans over 20 miles. His achievements in the areas of improving product quality, increasing market demand, supporting consumer education on health benefits and increasing the accessibility of produce to more people exemplify the spirit of innovation the Produce Innovation Award is designed to honor.

Carr and his wife, Lori Anne, purchased Titan Farms in 1999 and have since grown the operation 400 percent, from 1,500 acres to 6,100 acres. At the production level, the Carrs attribute their success with yield and quality to an uncompromising focus on employee training and retention, precision ag technology and a team-based approach to farm management.

“Any success we have begins and ends with our employees,” said Carr. “Everyone here has ownership in the products we grow, harvest and ship. And we firmly believe our investment in employee training and support programs pays enormous dividends in product quality and yield.”  

Carr added that all farm employees are highly trained and strictly adhere to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to ensure Titan Farms products are grown, harvested and packed to exceed quality standards and food safety guidelines.  

Produce Innovation Award judges included Tom Stenzel, president, United Fresh Produce Association; John Keeling, executive vice president and CEO, the National Potato Council; and Bryan Silbermann, CEO of the Produce Marketing Association. Adrian Percy, global head of research and development at Bayer CropScience, completed the judging panel. The annual award is designed to honor a leader in the produce industry whose thinking, practices and use of technology enhance the role of produce in creating better lives.