Alabama Young Farmers struck gold in California at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 96th Annual Convention in San Diego, Jan. 11-14 with honors including election of a national officer and Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) contests finalists.
Jon Hegeman of Calhoun County was elected YF&R Committee chairman and will serve a one-year term on the AFBF board of directors. He officially becomes chairman at AFBF’s FUSION Conference Feb. 13-16 in Nashville.
Alabama’s Outstanding Young Farm Family Vicki and Paul Morrison of Dale County and Grace Smith Ellis from Autauga County were Top-10 finalists in the YF&R Achievement Award and Excellence in Ag contests, respectively. Marshall County’s Josh Williams represented Alabama in the YF&R Discussion Meet.
“Our Young Farmers did a great job representing our state at the conference and are evidence we not only grow crops and livestock in Alabama, we also grow outstanding leaders,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “The YF&R contests bring the brightest young people in the country to this meeting. Our state and our organization can be proud we have such outstanding leadership on the horizon.”
The Achievement Award program recognizes Young Farmers & Ranchers who excel in farming and leadership. Excellence in Ag participants earn the majority of their income outside of farming and are judged on involvement in agriculture; leadership ability; and involvement in Farm Bureau and other organizations. Discussion Meet topics included land management under private verses government control and possible crop insurance for livestock producers.
The Blount County Young Farmers received a County Award of Excellence for its Farm Safety Day and Row Crop Tour. Conference attendees visited the county’s booth at the convention trade show.
Alabama was recognized at the convention with Excellence Awards for Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications. The organization also received the Apex Award for increased donations to the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.
Convention workshops covered technology, communications and current issues. Federation District 3 Director Phillip Thompson of Jackson County found the information helpful.
“I’ve gathered valuable details to make an informed choice between Price Loss Coverage and Agricultural Risk Coverage farm programs,” he said. “I encourage folks to come at least once to one of these conventions. This information will help me be a better farmer.”
Navy Seal Commander Rorke Denver gave an inspiring speech on true leadership, and the convention closed with a keynote address from former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno.
More than 4,500 farmers throughout the nation attended the event, including 131 from Alabama. During the convention, voting delegates adopted grassroots policies and selected organization leaders.