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Future-Focused Young Farmers Flourish At Annual Conference

Future-Focused Young Farmers Flourish At Annual Conference
August 29, 2016 |

The Alabama Farmers Federation’s Young Farmers proved the future of agriculture is in good hands as they competed in statewide events at the 44th Commodity Producers Conference in Mobile July 30.

In the Port City, the Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) was announced, and young farmers competed in the Excellence In Agriculture and Discussion Meet contests.

This year’s OYFF is Madison County’s Stewart and Kasey McGill and daughters Allie, 4, Reece, 2, and Peyton, 3 months. The McGills grow cotton, corn and soybeans and help manage Kasey’s family’s agritourism operation, Cotton Pickin’ Pumpkins, a division of Tate Farms in Meridianville.

The McGills won a prize package worth more than $60,000, including a new General Motors pickup truck from Alfa Insurance, a John Deere 825i Gator from Alabama Ag Credit and Alabama Farm Credit and use of a John Deere tractor by John Deere and local John Deere dealers.

OYFF runners-up were Lance and Stephanie Miller of Snead in Blount County and their children Reed, 4, and Jade, 1; and John and Hannah Bevel of Albertville in Marshall County and their daughter Madalyn, 3. The runners-up received $500 courtesy of Alabama Ag Credit and Alabama Farm Credit. The Federation presented each finalist a Big Green Egg cooker.

OYFF contestants must receive more than 50 percent of their income from production agriculture. Finalists were announced at the Young Farmers Conference in February.

Ben and Heather Maples of Elkmont in Limestone County beat out 10 competitors in the Excellence in Agriculture contest. As the winner, the Maples will receive a John Deere zero-turn mower sponsored by Dow AgroSciences and a computer package from CCS/Valcom Wireless.

Excellence In Agriculture contestants are young people ages 18-35 who are actively engaged in agriculture but don't earn a majority of their income from production agriculture. The competition included an application, 15-minute presentation and 10-minute question-and-answer session.

Excellence in Agriculture first runners-up were Brandon and Angela Sewell of Southside in Etowah County, and second runner-up was Andrew Brock of Douglas in Marshall County.

Four finalists were named in the Federation’s Discussion Meet contest, designed to simulate a committee meeting where active participation is expected. Eighteen contestants discussed pre-selected agricultural topics through several rounds of competition.

Finalists are Lauren Cline of Opelika in Lee County, Jerry Allen Newby of Athens in Limestone County, Hunter McBrayer of Boaz in Marshall County and Sidney Phelps of Dadeville in Tallapoosa County.

Discussion Meet finalists will compete in December at the Federation’s annual meeting in Montgomery for the top prize of a 4-wheeler sponsored by First South Farm Credit.

Excellence in Agriculture runners-up and Discussion Meet finalists also received Big Green Egg cookers from the Federation.

Young Farmers contest winners will represent Alabama at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting and contests in January in Phoenix, Arizona.

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