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Vote for the Fighter to Farmer Grand Prize Winner

73 years: That’s the combined service time for the three farmer veterans who were selected as this year’s Fighter to Farmer recipients.

$5,000 + a two-person trip to Opryland: That’s the thank you each of the three farmer veterans will receive for his service.

$10,000 toward the purchase of a new Grasshopper mower. That’s the prize that’s up for grabs. Vote for one of these farmer veterans to receive the Grand Prize. See details below.


Captain Michael Nocton

After graduating from Purdue University in 1972, Mike Nocton joined the Navy, where he was trained to fly A-6 Intruder jets. By 1978, he had proven his skill as a pilot and became a Navy flight instructor. 

Two years later, Nocton made the difficult decision to leave the Navy, and he returned to Richmond, Indiana, to farm. While he enjoyed his time back on the farm, he missed flying. So when the Navy asked him to join the Navy Reserve as an instructor, he said yes. 

For the next 16 years, Nocton served in the Reserve while still managing his farming operation. He made five deployments with three different squadrons on three different carriers. 

When he retired in 1996, Nocton focused full time on his farming operation, which now includes almost 1,000 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Hear more about Nocton's experience in the Navy.

Sergeant First Class David Baumann

At 17 years old, Dave Baumann made the life-changing decision to join the Army. His first mission was supposed to be a yearlong tour of duty in South Korea. However, the tour was cut short when his unit was moved to Iraq in 2004. For the next year, Baumann used his mechanic skills to ensure that Humvees didn’t break down on patrols and that artillery fired properly.  

In 2007, he returned home to North Dakota, where he split his time between the family farm in Ashley and the oil fields. After a short break in his service, he enlisted in the National Guard.

Today, Baumann continues to serve in the Guard while helping run the family farm, which includes 1,000 acres of soybeans, barley, and corn along with a 500-head cow-calf operation.

Read more about Baumann's time in Iraq and his service in the National Guard.

Chief Master Sergeant Robert Huttes

Despite growing up in the middle of farm country, Bob Huttes didn’t have the traditional path to farming. He helped his father run a concrete and construction business in Pana, Illinois.

After high school, Huttes enlisted in the Illinois Air National Guard and attended a junior college, eventually getting a full-time job as an aerospace ground equipment mechanic. 

Then he met Marilyn, who would be his wife in a year. The couple had two children in Illinois before returning to Marilyn’s family farm in Roca, Nebraska.

During this time, Huttes continued to serve in the Air National Guard, first in Illinois and then in Nebraska. His most notable deployment came in 2011, when he volunteered to be a member of an ag development team who helped Afghanistan farmers. He retired three years ago and devotes his time fully to the farm as well as his community by serving on multiple boards.

Learn more about how Huttes helped Afghan farmers.

Our Thanks

The Successful Farming magazine Fighter to Farmer contest received more than 120 entries. We thank all of these veterans for their service. 

We would also like to thank Grasshopper Mowers for its sponsorship of the contest as well as the Farmer Veteran Coalition and the Military Warriors Support Foundation for their assistance in judging entries. 

Vote Daily

The three Fighter to Farmer winners were selected based on the impact of their military service on their life or career in agriculture, their community involvement, and their relevance to farming. The final vote is now open to the public to determine which winner will receive the Grand Prize: $10,000 toward the purchase of a new Grasshopper mower. There is a limit of one vote per person, per IP address, per day throughout the voting period. Voting is open from October 1 through November 30.

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