Aug 19, 2019Sklarczyk Seed Farm honored as Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year
Awards just keep rolling in for Sklarczyk Seed Farm.
The Johannesburg, Michigan potato seed operation, which includes a tissue-culture lab and extensive greenhouse, has been named the 2019 Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year by the state’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).
Sklarczyk Seed Farm hydroponically produces six million tubers each year, more than 41% of which are exported to countries such as Canada, Chile, Egypt, Germany, Brazil and Thailand. The farm began exporting in 2001, and export numbers increased by 16% from 2016 to 2018.
SSF is owned by Ben Sklarczyk, who represents the third generation of the family to own the farm, and his wife, Alison. Ben’s grandparents, Michael and Theresa Sklarczyk bought the farm in 1942. Ben’s parents — Don and Mary Kay Sklarczyk — later took over the farm and started the tissue culture lab during the 1980s.
“We’re very proud to recognize Sklarczyk Seed Farm with this award,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “Not only is this a homegrown, generational operation run by a great family and supported by an incredible team, but it’s also a model for how Michigan’s food and agriculture businesses continue to adapt and evolve with an ever-changing, global market.”
Ben is currently the CEO of the company, while Alison manages the lab and handles finances. Both are active in the potato industry as members and delegates of the National Potato Council.
“We are honored to be the recipient of the 2019 Ag Exporter of the Year award,” Ben Sklarczyk said. “As a boy growing up around our operation, I never dreamed SSF would have a worldwide impact on the potato industry. Today, I greatly value the customer relationships we have formed and the team we have at SSF, which helps grow some of the best seed potatoes in the world.”
Earlier this year, Alison Sklarczyk was voted Spudman magazine’s Spudwoman of the Year. Ben, meanwhile, is a former winner of Spudman’s Emerging Leader Award.
The Michigan Agriculture Exporter of the Year award review committee consisted of representatives from Michigan State University, Michigan Farm Bureau; Comerica Bank, Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith P.C. and the Van Andel Global Trade Center. The decision was made based on export growth in the past three years, job creation from exporting and ability to enter new markets.
To be eligible for this award, more than 50% of a company’s product must be grown and produced in Michigan, and exports must have contributed a substantial amount to a company’s overall growth. For more information about past winners and the International Marketing Program, visit: www.michigan.gov/agexport.
Sklarczyk Seed Farm is the second largest employer in Johannesburg, Michigan, ranking only behind the Johannesburg-Lewiston Area school system.
Top: Alison and Ben Sklarczyk, left, are presented with the award by MDARD Director Gary McDowell, right. Photo: Michigan Potato Industry Commission.