JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.— Young farmers and ranchers from Pettis County were part of a record-breaking crowd attending the Missouri Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Leadership Conference Feb. 14-16. More than 570 young farmers and ranchers heard from a number of guest speakers, shared farm experiences with their peers and just had fun. The conference was held at the Lake of the Ozark’s Tan-Tar-A Resort.
The young group of farmers networked and learned what challenges face their industry. One of those challenges is the threat of out-of-state groups attempting to control agriculture. The farmers learned about an issue on the November ballot called Amendment #1, also known as the Keep Missouri Farming Amendment. Dan Cassidy, with Missouri Farm Bureau, told the group the constitutional amendment protects farming as a way of life. He asked young farmers to help Farm Bureau in supporting the measure to recognize agriculture and its importance to Missouri’s economy.
Another speaker was Kevin Murphy with Food Chain Communications. He explained how the food morality movement is undercutting agriculture. “Companies like Chipotle are marketing products using terminology that paints a negative image of conventional farming, only to make money on the very industry that supports them,” he said. He suggested farmers take control of the moral arguments of caring for livestock and crops to feed people and provide for their own families.
There were plenty of fun events as well. Both children and adults took part in a pedal tractor pull. A super farmer contest was a friendly competition pitting teams of young farmers against each other for the best times and most points. Some of the events included a culvert course, tire roll and wheelbarrow race. Bingo and cards were part of the mix of meeting fellow farmers from other parts of the state.
State YF&R Committee Chairman Drew Lock of La Plata, concluded the conference with thoughts on why young Farm Bureau members should become involved with Farm Bureau. He said issues like Keep Missouri Farming are important in order to keep farming viable for future farmers. He suggested young farmers and ranchers get involved in policy issues to protect their farm businesses.
The MFB YF&R Conference is hosted by a committee of up to 30 young farmers. More than 100 businesses and individuals sponsor the conference. Those attending from Pettis County included:
In the photo from left to right: Grant & Rachel Jones, Andrew & Bailey McCollester, Scott & Amy Rambo, Barak & Amber Knoernschild, Matt & Katie Close.