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Salem County Farmer Selected as Finalist for FFA’s Star Farmer of America

For Immediate Release: August 20, 2003


Hope Gruzlovic




Michael N. Brooks, 21, of Elmer, Salem County, has been selected as one of FFA’s four American Star Farmers who will compete for the title of Star Farmer of America – the highest recognition in the nation for an aspiring young farmer.

New Jersey’s last Star Farmer of America was in 1930. Since then, Brooks is the only New Jersey farmer to advance to the finals.

“Mike is an outstanding example of the future of New Jersey agriculture,” said Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. “He has worked hard to establish his own successful agricultural operation, and he’s using the skills he learned in FFA to expand his business. As we work to ensure a strong agricultural industry, we need to equip and encourage the next generation of agricultural leaders. FFA is one way we do that. We are proud that Mike has been selected for this honor, and to have him as a young and upcoming farmer here in New Jersey.”

FFA’s American Star Farmer awards recognize students who have developed outstanding agricultural skill and competency through their career development programs; demonstrated outstanding management skills; earned the American Degree – the highest degree an FFA member can achieve; and met other agricultural education, scholarship and leadership requirements.

Each state FFA can nominate an American Star Farmer candidate to the national organization. Those nominations are reviewed by a national panel of judges who select the top four finalists. As a finalist, Brooks receives $1,000 from the National FFA Foundation and has the opportunity to participate in an international experience tour to Costa Rica. The other finalists are from Kansas, Oklahoma and Minnesota.

A panel of industry judges will interview the finalists and announce the Star Farmer of America on October 30th at the 2003 National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. The winner will receive an additional $1,000 award.

Brooks enrolled in agricultural education and became an FFA member as a freshman in high school. Through his FFA agricultural experience project, he began growing a half-acre of strawberries on his parents’ farm. He quickly transitioned to growing 10 acres of spinach on contract for a local processor. He has been running his own farming operation since 1997. Today, he grows 65 acres of process tomatoes, 40 acres of spring spinach and 215 acres of field corn on land he rents. He recently formed MNB Transport, LLC, an agricultural trucking operation.

Brooks continues to maintain a high level of participation in FFA by serving as Woodstown FFA Alumni President and as New Jersey FFA Foundation Board Donor Representative. His plans include purchasing additional acreage, expanding his operation and earning a bachelor’s degree by the age of 26.

Brooks is the son of William and Diane Brooks. Bill Brooks is a former member of the State Board of Agriculture.

FFA is a national organization aimed at developing students’ potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The Department of Agriculture administers the statewide program for FFA through its Office of Agricultural Education.