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Master Farmer Makings: Glen Cauffman Lives Farm Innovation

First of four features on what makes the 2013 Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer award winners click.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

April 17, 2013

2 Min Read

Vision and tenacity carried Glen Cauffman through many experiences on and off his Millerstown, Pa., farm. His passion for teaching farm innovation took him to places like University Park, Pa., the former Soviet Ukraine, Romania, Republic of Georgia, even New York City.

During nearly 25 years as Penn State University's farm operations manager, he converted the university's farms to no-till with extensive conservation practices, introduced nutrient management programs and cover crops. He led the university's move into adopting biofuels, biohydraulic fluids, even composting of food wastes and manure – all while commuting home to farm on weekends.


His home-farm venture took a new direction in 2004 with what's now a 150-head Angora goat herd. As herd numbers grew, so did Cauffman's prescription-grazed pasture paddocks, seeded with innovative plant varieties not found on most farms.

Next-level management of pasture nutrition raised his herd's natural resistance to parasites. Cup plant was introduced as a silage crop to boost forage protein and goat mohair quality.

In 2011, PureAmericanNaturals was born, a high-quality mohair marketing venture aided by a USDA value-added producer grant. "We can no longer stop marketing at the farm gate," he emphasizes. With last year's retirement from Penn State, Glen's experimentations became commercial with a private medical research contract involving his goat herd.

Early this year, his fleece-to-fashion message attracted attention of New York City's top-level fashion designers. "Our product samples and story connected with fashion designers who now want trace back to real people offering heirloom quality fiber," he explains.


Nominate a worthy Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer candidate now
Know of an outstanding farmer who's deserving of the Master Farmer award? Then, nominate him or her now for the 2014 award. And they'll receive an application.

Since 1927, the Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer Awards program has recognized individual farmer leaders from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia who inspire others. These men and/or women are good farmers, smart business persons, excellent stewards of their resources and exemplary community servants. Size of the farming operation isn't a deciding factor.

The award is co-sponsored by American Agriculturist and Cooperative Extension in the above mentioned states. Email your nominations to: [email protected] . Be sure the mailing address is current and complete.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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