By Marlee Moore
Jerry Allen Newby of Limestone County secured the title of state Discussion Meet winner following an intense final round of conversation about international trade.
The Young Farmers contest was held during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 99th annual meeting in Montgomery Dec. 6. Newby was presented his prize — a four-wheeler sponsored by First South Farm Credit — and was honored on stage at the closing session Dec. 7.
“Discussion Meet is a good leadership tool that teaches you how to have roundtable discussions and problem solve,” said Newby, a row crop and cattle farmer from Athens. “Participating in this contest makes me dive deeper into studying topics that are vital to American agriculture.”
Other Discussion Meet finalists were Garrett Dixon of Salem in Lee County, Brady Peek of Athens in Limestone County and Ali Cantrell of Hope Hull in Montgomery County.
The Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) and Excellence in Agriculture contest winner were named earlier this year and were recognized at the meeting.
OYFF Ben and Bethany Johnson of Randolph County received a prize package worth more than $60,000. Prizes include $35,000 toward a Ford truck courtesy of Alfa Insurance; a lease on a John Deere tractor from AgPro, SunSouth and TriGreen; and a John Deere Gator sponsored by Alabama Ag Credit and Alabama Farm Credit.
The Johnsons raise poultry, cattle, row crops and hay in the Omaha community near Woodland. They also own a fertilizer-spreading business. They have two children, Blakely and Brooks, and are expecting another son in April. OYFF contestants earn more than half their income from production agriculture and compete via interviews and on-farm judging.
Excellence in Agriculture contest winner Emmanuel Bankston of Henry County received his prize package during the annual meeting. Prizes included a zero-turn mower sponsored by Corteva Agriscience and a computer package from Valcom/CCS Wireless.
Excellence in Agriculture contestants derive more than half their income off-farm and showcase their passion for agriculture through a presentation and application. Bankston is operations superintendent for Golden Peanuts in Headland.
All Young Farmers contest finalists received a $500 Red Land Cotton gift certificate, courtesy of the Federation.
As state winners, Newby, Bankston and the Johnsons will represent Alabama during American Farm Bureau Federation virtual contests in January.