Young farmers representing 10 agricultural commodities were honored as division winners in the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) competition at the Young Farmers Leadership Conference in Mobile.
Six finalists also were selected from the group to compete for the title of overall OYFF at the Federation’s 91st annual meeting to be held this December in Montgomery.
The winner will receive a nicely equipped 2013 Chevrolet or GMC pickup truck, courtesy of Alfa Insurance and Alabama Farmers Federation; a John Deere Gator XUV, courtesy of Alabama Farm Credit and Alabama Ag Credit; lease of a John Deere tractor, courtesy of SunSouth, TriGreen Equipment and Snead Ag dealers; and a personal computer system from Valcom/CTS Wireless.
Alabama’s top young farm family will represent the state in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Achievement Award competition at its January 2013 annual meeting in Nashville.
The OYFF commodity division winners were: Ben and Miranda Looney of Limestone County, Soybeans Division; Jon and Amy Hegeman of Calhoun County, Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Division; Matt and Mandy Armbrester of Talladega County, Wheat and Feed Grains Division; Paul and Vicki Morrison of Dale County, Peanut Division; Lance and Stephanie Miller of Blount County, Cotton Division; Josh and Amanda Simpson of Monroe County, Beef Division; Daniel and Jessica White of Randolph County, Meat Goat and Sheep Division; Chase And Noelle Bradley of Monroe County, Poultry Division; Jamie and Amy Griffin of Shelby County, Equine Division; and Jeff Whitaker of DeKalb County, Hay and Forage Division.
The six finalists that will compete for the overall OYFF title are the Looneys, the Hegemans, the Armbresters, the Morrisons, the Millers and the Simpsons.
Now entering its 55th year, the OYFF program recognizes young farmers and farm families between the ages of 18 and 35 who are doing an outstanding job in their farm, home and commodity activities and promote a better understanding of agriculture with the urban populace.
In addition to the OYFF competition, the Young Farmers Leadership Conference included educational workshops and inspirational seminars on leadership, estate planning, farm management and agricultural advocacy.
The opening keynote speaker at the conference was Retired U.S. Army Chaplain Jeff Struecker. An Iowa native with over 22 years of active federal service, Struecker served for 10 years in the 75th Ranger Regiment.
No stranger to war, his combat experience includes participation in Operation Just Cause in Panama; Operation Iris Gold in Kuwait; Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, Somalia; and multiple tours in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During the opening banquet, Struecker shared his experiences in Mogadishu, which inspired the movie “Blackhawk Down,” and talked about the importance of leadership during tough times.
Other speakers included nationally acclaimed agricultural education specialist Betty Wolanyck, who hosted a workshop on the importance of being an advocate for agriculture.
Custom Ag Solutions hosted a workshop on risk management and crop insurance, and Brooke Poague, an attorney with Wetumpka-based firm Bailey and Poague, led a workshop on wills and estate planning.