Local farmers attend state Farm Bureau Young Farmer, Rancher Conference
CLEMSON – A record number of attendees met recently for the 2016 South Carolina Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Conference. Florence County residents Benjamin Poston and Dustin Coleman were among the more than 200 young farmers and ranchers who traveled to Clemson University to network, to become better leaders in their communities, and to share their experiences within the agriculture industry. Conference attendees had the opportunity to listen to world-class speakers on topics overreaching all aspects of agriculture.
They learned about everything from ag technology, soil nutrition and labor, to agritourism, organics and ag literacy. Dean Hutto of Orangeburg County was elected as the 2016 SCFB Young Farmer and Rancher Committee Chair. He takes his role following the leadership of Steven Long of Lexington County, last year’s chair. “Steven has shown great leadership during his tenure as Young Farmer and Rancher Chair. He has not only been a true visionary and decision maker, but also a servant leader to the committee.
We are thankful to Steven’s efforts and look forward to the guidance and knowledge of our newly elected chair, Dean,” said SCFB President Harry Ott. Loni Rikard, of Lexington County, won the 2016 Young Farmer and Rancher Excellence in Agriculture Award. After an oral presentation in front of a panel of judges and conference attendees, Rikard took home a new Polaris Sportsman 570 ATV with a front brush guard, a 2,500-pound winch, helmet and gloves, courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company.
She will also receive an expense-paid trip to the 2016 American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Young Farmer and Rancher leadership conference in Kansas City, Mo., and an expense-paid trip to compete at the 2017 AFBF annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz. The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.
Blake Berry of Anderson County and Clint and Katie Moore of Greenville County were also recognized as finalists for the Excellence Award. Jimmie Lee and Katie Shaw, of Newberry County, won the 2016 Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award. The couple received $1,000 and a choice of a new GM pickup truck, both courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company.
They will also receive an expense-paid trip to the 2016 AFBF Young Farmer and Rancher leadership conference in Kansas City, Mo., and an expense-paid trip to compete at the 2017 AFBF annual meeting in Phoenix, Ariz. The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation’s growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau leadership and leadership outside of Farm Bureau. Whitney and Lynne Farr of Spartanburg County were also recognized as finalists for the Achievement Award.
The large number of attendees at this year’s conference was indicative of a renewed interest shown by young farmers throughout the state. “Our Young Farmer and Rancher program is growing with an increasing number of young people interested in agriculture and expanding their knowledge of farming. We were really excited to host our largest group ever this year, especially with this being the first time the conference has been held in Clemson,” said SCFB Young Farmer and Rancher Coordinator Jessica Cabrera.
Calhoun County had the most members present, boasting 19 young farmers and ranchers at the conference, and received the award for the Largest County Delegation. The Young Farmer and Rancher program is one of many purpose activities sponsored by the South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation. By connecting farmers to the larger community, Farm Bureau cultivates understanding about agriculture’s importance to South Carolina’s local economies. To learn more, log on to scfb.org.