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Nights and weekends pay off for 2nd generation shepherdess

It has taken more than a decade for one young farmer to make her way back to the family farm full-time.

Elaine Palm grew up on a sheep farm in West Branch, Michigan, and knew since her first job after college that’s where she needed to end up.

“My last summer in D.C., I was driving home about every three weeks to help with hay harvest, and I just knew that was not a sustainable plan for me,” she shares.

After her time working for the American Farm Bureau, Palm moved back to Michigan to lead the Michigan Ag Council and was able to buy her first farm.  She tells Brownfield supporting beginning farmers remains a priority.

“We like to see other shepherds grow their flocks and so we like to work with other shepherds to make sure they have breeding stock, they can come to use and grow their flock using our genetics,” she shares.

It took several years of working nights and weekends as a shepherdess, but Palm says this spring she finally became a partner in Great Lakes Lamb with her parents.  The farm raises 600 sheep for meat and Palm is excited to complete the American Sheep Industry Association’s American Wool’s Assurance program later this year as she works to market the flock’s wool.

“Everything that I prioritize when it comes to our farm business kind of goes through the lens of, ‘What does this look like for animal care and what does this look like for environmental sustainability?” she adds.

Palm was recently named Michigan Farm Bureau’s Young Agriculture Leader Award winner.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Farm Bureau.

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