Alabama Farmers Federation State Young Farmers Committee Chairman Lance Miller of Blount County wants to increase participation in Young Farmers groups across the state by cultivating personal relationships.
Miller was elected state committee chairman at the Federation’s 94th annual meeting in December and will serve a one-year ex-officio term on the Federation board. He said he understands the importance of creating more connections among young farmers because that’s what first inspired him to run for the state committee.
“Cullman County farmer Ben Haynes was on the Young Farmers Committee in 2012, and he called to ask me about getting involved at the state level since I was so involved in my county Young Farmers,” said Miller, who was elected to replace Haynes that year as the North Alabama at-large representative. “I’m glad I ran, and as chairman now I want to see Young Farmers grow even more.”
Haynes said that, in Miller, he saw a leader who understood the Federation and could hit the ground running.
“I told him I thought he’d have a chance to serve as chairman one day, and we talked about serving on the committee for the right reasons,” said Haynes, who was Young Farmers chairman in 2011. “Being chairman is an important job that provides a chance to learn not just about the Federation but Alfa Insurance as well. I couldn’t be more excited for somebody like Lance to have this opportunity.”
Miller has a history of leadership in the Federation. In 2015, his third year on the State Young Farmers Committee, Miller was vice chairman. He has been involved in the Blount County Young Farmers since 2003 and was recently elected treasurer for the Blount County Farmers Federation board of directors.
Miller said his major goals for 2016 are to recruit new members and encourage more participation in the Young Farmers annual contests, including Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF), Excellence in Agriculture and Discussion Meet.
“In this position, you have to be willing to make a few phone calls here and there and ask folks to be a part of our events,” he said. “Sometimes the person you ask will say ‘yes’ and sometimes they will say ‘no,’ and that’s fine. But you have to ask. I want to travel this year and will be more than happy to speak at county events to encourage participation in state contests.”
As a three-time OYFF finalist and winner in the cotton division, Miller knows the benefits of competing. In the OYFF contest, commodity division winners may serve in an ex-officio position on the corresponding state commodity committee. Lance served in that capacity on the Federation State Cotton Committee in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
“That meant a lot to me because I got to see how things work and operate behind the scenes,” Miller said. “I want young farmers involved in commodity committees because those people make important decisions. It’s good to learn how checkoff dollars are used and transferred and to get additional education on issues like the farm bill and crop insurance.”
Aside from increasing member participation, Miller said he hopes to generate more business partnerships and increase the number of trade show vendors for the 2017 Young Farmers Conference.
With all his goals in mind, Miller is realistic and said it’s important for young farmers to develop a balance.
“I realize our farmers have other jobs and responsibilities — that serving means time away from the fields and from your families,” he said. “But when you’re able and you can, come and participate at the county and state levels. Whether your county committee is three people or 20, it doesn’t matter. Small numbers can do big things.”
Miller and wife Stephanie live in Snead, where they farm 1,100 acres of row crops with his uncle, Jimmy Miller. They also have four broiler poultry houses. They have a son, Reed, 3, and a daughter, Jade, six months.