Alabama’s top young farm families in 12 commodity divisions were recognized Feb. 2, at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Young Farmers Leadership Conference in Point Clear. More than 350 farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 attended the annual conference, which is designed to help young farmers develop skills they need to be successful.Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) division winners included: David and Wendy Rogers of Cherokee County, beef; Chad and Gwen DeVine of Baldwin County, cotton; Alan and Mandora Payton of Dekalb County, dairy; Joe and Amy Mathis of Bibb County, forestry; Joe and Alicia Smith of Shelby County, horticulture; Matthew and Amy Self of Barbour County, meat goat and sheep; Kris Balkcom of Dale County, peanut; Burk and Amanda Williams of Cherokee County, pork; Jason and Ashley Holladay of Crenshaw County, poultry; Mike and Shannon Dee of Pickens County, soybean; Wesley and Heather Hamner of Lauderdale County, feed grain; and Bert and Dee Anthony of Lowndes County, wildlife.This year, the division judges selected six finalists to compete for the title of overall 2002 Outstanding Young Farm Family. Young Farmers Director Brandon Moore said the State Young Farmers Committee made that decision early last year to allow the judges more time to visit and assess the finalists’ farm operations. The finalists were David and Wendy Rogers, Chad and Gwen DeVine, Alan and Mandora Payton, Joe and Alicia Smith, Jason and Ashley Holladay and Mike and Shannon Dee. The winner will be announced this December at the Alabama Farmers Federation’s annual meeting.In recognizing the OYFF division winners, Moore praised the competitors for having the commitment it takes to succeed under tough economic conditions.”To be this age and be able to raise a family on the farm makes all of you outstanding young farmers,” he said. “To make it work, you have to possess management skills that other 20- to 30-year-olds have not even thought of yet.”During the weekend conference, young farmers participated in workshops on a variety of topics including direct marketing, commodity futures trading, the farm bill and farm management.Speakers included Alfa Farmers President Jerry Newby, Federation Executive Director Mike Kilgore, Calhoun County dairyman David Wright, marketing expert Bob Coffman, Federation National Affairs Director Keith Gray, 2001 Outstanding Young Farmer Laird Cole, State FFA President Grace Smith and Miss Alabama Agriculture Kacey Walton. Entertainment was provided by Walton and her sister, Kara, as well as 2001 Talent Contest Winner Brandon George of Mobile.
Outstanding Young Farm Families Honored