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March 02, 2015

A.J. Watson
(334) 613-4219


The three Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) finalists were announced at the Young Farmers Conference in Montgomery Feb. 27 - March 1. Top: Horticulture Division Winners and OYFF finalists Kasey and Stewart McGill. Middle: Cotton Division Winners and OYFF finalists Stephanie and Lance Miller. Bottom: Beef Division Winners and OYFF finalists Garrett and Emily Henry.

Three finalists for the Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) competition were selected at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Young Farmers Conference in Montgomery Feb. 27 – March 1.

They are Garrett and Emily Henry of Hope Hull in Montgomery County; Stewart and Kasey McGill of Hazel Green in Madison County; and Lance and Stephanie Miller of Boaz in Blount County.

Alabama Farmers Federation Young Farmers Division Director Jennifer Himburg said nearly a quarter of attendees had never been to a Young Farmers conference before.

“It’s exciting and energizing to see so many new faces at the Young Farmers Conference this year,” Himburg said. “It just shows the future of Alabama agriculture is strong and will continue to thrive.”

OYFF finalists were selected from 18 entries. The 10 commodity division winners included Bee & Honey Division, Justin Hill of Lincoln in Calhoun County; Beef Division, Garrett and Emily Henry of Hope Hull in Montgomery County; Catfish Division, Ashley Kyser of Greensboro in Hale County; Cotton Division, Lance and Stephanie Miller of Boaz in Blount County; Dairy Division, Benjamin and Tamera Brown of Southside in Etowah County; Horticulture Division, Stewart and Kasey McGill of Hazel Green in Madison County; Peanut Division, Jennifer and John Bitto of Elberta in Baldwin County; Poultry Division, Christopher and Nikki Hilburn of Luverne in Crenshaw County; Soybean Division, Jeremy and Stephanie Wilson of Lincoln in Talladega County; and Wheat & Feed Grains Division, John and Hannah Bevel of Albertville in Marshall County.

Finalists will be judged on their farms in July, and the winner will be announced at the Federation’s Commodity Producers Conference July 30-Aug. 2. The winner will receive a prize package valued at more than $60,000, including a new GM pickup truck, 825I John Deere Gator and use of a John Deere tractor.

The first and second runners-up will each receive $500 cash courtesy of Alabama Ag Credit and Alabama Farm Credit.

The winning family will represent Alabama in the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award contest in January in Orlando, Florida.

Along with the OYFF preliminaries, the conference included sessions on common misconception about agriculture, taxes and services of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS).

Cory Abercrombie, who works with former Young Farmers Division Director Brandon Moore in Toney, went with a friend to the conference and said the information and relationships he gained from his first Young Farmers Conference were invaluable.

“We would like to start farming ourselves, but it’s hard to get started in it, so we attended the FSA workshop,” Abercrombie said. “It was very educational to figure out the things it’s doing to help young farmers with different loans and programs for people like myself. It was nice to meet a lot of other people who are young and trying to cut their teeth in farming but don’t know how, or other people who farm and give you a lot of advice. The camaraderie was a big factor.”

Nearly 300 young farmers from across the state attended the annual conference.

Matthew Lohr, a former teacher, Virginia House of Delegates representative and Virginia Department of Agriculture commissioner, and Jolene Brown, a farmer, author and family business consultant from Iowa, were the feature speakers. Lohr reminded farmers to live with passion and determination to promote agriculture.

Brown gave a workshop on mistakes that break up a family farm and what young farmers can do to run a successful farming business.

Other conference activities included a Friday night concert by the band Blue Denim and a live auction on Sunday that raised more than $7,000 for the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation. The foundation funds scholarships in all 67 counties for students seeking agriculture and forestry degrees at Alabama colleges.

Pictures from the conference are available at

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