Derrick Stalbaum of Medaryville, Indiana, is the recipient of Farm Credit Mid-America’s Forward Thinker Award. The honor is given each year to a young or beginning farmer who exemplifies outstanding leadership, community involvement and implementation of unique practices that drive the growth of his or her farming operation and the industry as a whole.
Stalbaum is a fifth-generation farmer and a third-generation pork producer. After graduating with a degree in elementary education from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, Stalbaum began his professional career as a math teacher, allowing him to spend his evenings, weekends and summers working on his family’s farm.
In 2022, Stalbaum and his wife made significant investments into the farm, which grew the operation to its current capacity of 30,000 pigs and made it possible to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps of farming full time. Stalbaum’s farm also produces and markets corn, soybeans, alfalfa and mint. He recently diversified his livestock with the addition of Boer Goats.
“I believe the thing that sets my family’s farm apart from many other farms is our mission of transparency and positivity, and I’m honored to be recognized by Farm Credit Mid-America for our progress,” said Stalbaum. “The driving force of my ambition is continuing my family’s legacy by ensuring it continues long after me through modernization and growth. We are creating positive community awareness of agriculture and prioritizing the ownership of our farm within our family.”
Stalbaum is also deeply involved in his community with a number of civic and agricultural leadership positions, which include the Indiana Pork Association, Indiana School Board Association and Pulaski County Zoning Board. He is committed to ensuring his community and neighbors have access to safe and reliable food and has donated more than $2,000 worth of frozen pork to the local food pantry.
The Forward Thinker Award is made possible through Growing Forward®, Farm Credit Mid-America’s program for young, beginning and small farmers. This multi-year program provides eligible customers with continuing education opportunities that focus on financial management and help these customers position their operations for growth and long-term success.
“Serving young, beginning and small farmers is a critical part of our mission to secure the future of rural communities and agriculture. It’s important for us to highlight and reward innovative thinking among these customers who represent the future of our industry,” said Dakota Everts, vice president of Growing Forward and Lending Partnerships for Farm Credit Mid-America. “This award is a small way to recognize producers like Derrick for exceptional work and community impact. We hope his story will inspire others to pursue creativity and fresh ideas within their own operations.”
Forward Thinker Award recipients are recognized at one of the cooperative’s Know to Grow conferences. They also receive $5,000 and a personalized plaque. Applications for the next Forward Thinker Award will open later in 2024. Applicants must be customers of Farm Credit Mid-America and either belong to or have graduated from the Growing Forward® program.