LINCOLN, NEB. – The 2020 Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Conference was held Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney. More than 190 young farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness professionals came together to get insights into agriculture trends, knowledge on leading issues facing farmers and ranchers in Nebraska, and building a strong network of lifelong allies needed to thrive in agriculture. This year’s conference was presented by Nebraska Farm Bureau and Aurora Cooperative.
“Making a difference is what young farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness professionals believe is critically important for our future and the future of Nebraska,” said Jason Perdue, YF&R Committee chair and York County Farm Bureau member. "Not just at the local or state level in Nebraska, but even at the national level, our voices and efforts really matter. Just as essential is the opportunity to encourage one another and invest in each other’s lives as allies in a network of young producers tackling the challenges ahead together.”
For nearly four decades, the YF&R conference has been a great way for young farmers and ranchers in Nebraska to network and share ideas. This year’s conference offered local tours, innovative breakout sessions, inspiring keynote speaker, discussion meet contest, and mystery dinner theatre as entertainment. Congressmen Don Bacon and Adrian Smith attended and were recognized as Nebraska Farm Bureau-Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC) “Friends of Agriculture.”
Tours of local agribusinesses included stops at: CSS Farms, Cash-Wa Distributing, Nebraska Star Beef and Lucky Beef Jerky, Sandhill Plastics, and Thunderhead Brewery. Keynote speaker V.J. Smith inspired attendees to treat others with dignity, kindness, and respect through the life story of Marty, a cashier from his hometown. Breakout sessions covered topics about soil health, grain marketing, how to deal with farm stress, telling your agriculture story, the business of farming, drones in agriculture, how to market yourself, and the Food in the Field nutrition plan.
Seventeen young leaders competed in the YF&R Discussion Meet developing solutions to current and future issues facing agriculture. Finalists from this conference will compete in Kearney in December for a chance to represent Nebraska at the American Farm Bureau Discussion Meet competition in San Diego, California in January 2021. Lance Atwater of Ayr, Amy Musgrave of Ong, Alec Ibach of Kearney, and Karah Perdue of York were named finalists, while Sean Krebs of Clearwater and Tyler Ramsey of Kenesaw were named alternates.
As part of their belief that they make an impact in their counties, attendees raised over $1,000 to support foster care kids and their families in Nebraska through Compass Nebraska, a non-profit organization, through the 2nd Annual YF&R Cornhole Tournament.
"The Nebraska Farm Bureau YF&R program helps young people in agriculture follow their passion and grow as leaders. The program allows for diverse opportunities and demonstrates the importance of the role young leaders can play in agriculture," said Audrey Schipporeit, director of generational engagement.
The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service, and advocacy efforts. More than 58,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about the Nebraska YF&R Conference and programs visit: www.nefb.org/yfr.