JEFFERSON CITY – A record-breaking number of young farmers and ranchers attended the recent Missouri Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Leadership Conference Feb. 15-17. Several of the 585 attending came from Pettis County. The conference was held at the Lake of the Ozark’s Tan-Tar-A Resort.
The weekend event gives young people actively involved in farming a chance to network and learn more about their industry. Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst opened the conference with stories about working on the farm with his family when he was starting out as a farmer in Westboro, Mo., where he still farms.
Other speakers included Matt Lohr, Virginia’s current commissioner of agriculture and a former national FFA officer who owns his own motivational speaking company, and MFB YF&R Committee Chairman Andy Clay who farms near Jamestown, Mo. Lohr told the group farmers have been able to accomplish so much because they have adapted to change. Today, of the 2.1 million farms in the U.S., 100,000 provide 75 percent of production. “Take the time to educate our urban friends,” he says. “Just because they don’t understand doesn’t mean they don’t want to understand.”
Clay closed the conference with a similar message. He says a recent survey ranked farmers eighth among occupations young people are interested in, behind nurses, firemen, policemen and superheroes. “That’s why young farmers need to become involved. They need to tell their story,” he says. “I never wanted to be a fireman, policeman or superhero, but I’ve always wanted to be a farmer.”
The conference was loaded with mini-seminars, a trade show, fun and games. Comedian ventriloquist Taylor Mason, provided laughs with puppets Paco, Ramon, Romeo and Clay. Clay is the farmer character in Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance commercials. Both children and young adults took part in bingo games and a pedal tractor pull. A super farmer contest for adults involved an obstacle course.
Those attending from Pettis County included: Matt and Katie Close, Kevin and Datalie Ficken, Justin and Liney Tinney, Jack and Katie Hall, Dave and Liz Niebruegge, Scott and Amy Rambo, Grant and Rachel Jones, Tegan and Ted Tucker, Bailey and Andrew McCollester. Submitted photo.