Emerging trends in agriculture will be the focus as nearly 250 Alabama Farmers Federation members gather in Montgomery Feb. 26-27 for the annual Young Farmers Conference.
Federation Young Farmers Director Jennifer Himburg said the event provides an opportunity for young agricultural professionals to make connections, share ideas and develop skills that will benefit their farms and communities.
“This is the place young farmers from across the state can get together to build relationships and network with other people who share the same interests, opportunities and challenges,” Himburg said. “Participants also get tools they can use to strengthen their farm operations and county Young Farmers programs.”
The conference keynote speaker will discuss how computers, biotechnology, population growth and economic improvements are changing agriculture. Dr. Lowell Catlett is a regents professor in agricultural economics and dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University.
“Dr. Catlett is an exciting futurist whose thought-provoking and entertaining presentations address a variety of technologies and their implications on the way we will live and work,” Himburg said. “He’s an award-winning scientist who speaks nationally and internationally to groups ranging from farmers to corporate executives.”
The conference begins Saturday with opportunities for young farmers to mix and mingle, including a performance by the Velcro Pygmies rock band. On Sunday, a variety of workshops are planned including a panel discussion on financial and estate planning; an American Farm Bureau Federation seminar on strengthening county Young Farmers committees; a workshop on the Federation’s new safety program with Area Organization Director Brad Cox; and an update on avian influenza from Alabama State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier.
Interviews for the Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) competition will be held during the conference. Three finalists will be named at the closing banquet and will go on to compete for more than $60,000 in prizes.
Contest applications are available at AlfaYoungFarmers.org and will be accepted through Jan. 15. Other meeting events include a panel discussion with young legislators involved in agriculture. Young Farmers also will learn about Aspire, a new, joint youth leadership conference planned by the Federation and other agricultural groups. The Aspire conference is July 12-14 at the Alabama 4-H Center in Columbiana.
The Young Farmers conference concludes Sunday evening with a live auction benefiting the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation. Last year, the popular event raised more than $7,000 for the Foundation.
Register for the Young Farmers Conference by Jan. 25. at AlfaFarmers.org.