Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference

January 27-28, 2023

Younes Conference Center North
707 Talmadge St., Kearney, NE 68845

$100 – Person | $50 – Student

FOR Young Farmers & Ranchers | BY Young Farmers & Ranchers
Giving YOU the tools and knowledge to make a positive impact on your farm and community.

Interactive area tours | Pioneering breakout speakers | Exciting giveaways, and more.

This conference has something for all young people connected to agriculture. Dinner and social hour both nights.

Online registration is turned off.
Walk-in registrations will be accepted Friday & Saturday.

Concert at Joe’s Honky Tonk

On Friday night, attendees will enjoy War Hippies w/ special guest Tyler Halverson.

Shuttles will be provided.


Friday, January 27

12:00 p.m.
Registration Opens

1:00 p.m.
Welcome & Networking

1:30 p.m.
Industry Tours
Tour 1: Case IH (Grand Island) & Baldwin Filters
Tour 2: Sweetwater Hemp Company & KAAPA Ethanol
Tour 3: The Archway & Canyon Lakes Brewing Company

6:00 p.m.

7:30 p.m.
Shuttle Departs for Joes Honkey Tonk

8:30 p.m.
War Hippies w/ special guest Tyler Halverson

Saturday, January 28

8:00 a.m.
Collegiate Coffee Talk
Enjoy a cup of coffee and connect with friends attending colleges across Nebraska. 

8:30 a.m.
Discussion Meet – Round 1

9:30 a.m.
Keynote Speaker
Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau

10:30 a.m.
Morning Break

11:00 – 11:45 a.m.
Breakout Sessions – Round 1

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

1:00 – 1:45 p.m.
Jordan Dux, 2023 Political Outlook

1:45 – 2:45 p.m.
Breakout Sessions – Round 2

2:45 p.m.
Afternoon Break

3:15 -4:15 p.m.
Breakouts Sessions – Round 3

4:15 p.m.
Discussion Meet – Round 2

5:00 p.m.
Happy Hour & Raffle Drawing

6:00 p.m.
Closing Banquet

Breakout Sessions

Round 1: 11:00 – 11:45 a.m.

Beef Cattle Nutrition: Where to Begin & How to Improve
– Hannah Smith

Nutrition for the beef herd on the farm or ranch can be overwhelming and ever changing. Making sure we find tools and methods to keep it simple and strategic can be the difference in a successful year, whether it be managing cows or feeding calves. Ultimately, how can we ensure nutrition provided equals nutrition required in the most economical way.

Hannah Smith is a Beef Systems Extension Educator located in the North Central portion of the state, covering Brown, Rock, and Keya Paha counties. Her training is in ruminant nutrition, however in her role she assists beef producers in her area on all topics in beef production and helping them have access to resources to improve the viability and longevity of their operations. When Hannah is not in the office, she is a ranch hand for her husbands’ family ranch where they raise registered Angus bulls combined with a yearling operation.

The Practical Side of Cover Crops and Soil Health
– Zach Louk

In this presentation I will walk through the practical application and management of cover crops from a young producer’s experience.  Included will be planting, both covers and crops, termination, soil health benefits, and economics with takeaways based on firsthand experiences.

Zach grew up in Southeast Kansas where his family ran a small farm and ranch.  He studied business management at Pittsburg State University, and upon graduation he was introduced to cover crops and soil health while running a small seed company.  In 2020 the company whom he was running was sold to Green Cover, and in the transaction, Zach was added to the Green Cover Sales staff.  He currently resides at their Iola, Kansas location where he operates a no-till, cover crop farming operation and grazes a herd of Kiko goats.

USDA Farm Service Agency: Loan Program Opportunities for Beginning Farmer Success
– Nicole Bonifas

USDA Farm Service Agency sometimes is called the first lender of opportunity because it can often make loans that other commercial lenders cannot. This is especially important for beginning farmers and ranchers, who for FSA purposes are those who have not operated a farm or ranch for more than 10 years. During this session we will provide an overview of FSA loans for beginners and discuss what information is needed to start working with your FSA county office.

Nicole Bonifas is the Farm Loan Manager for the Nebraska Farm Service Agency Farm Loan office in Adams County, which serves a hub area that also includes Adams, Clay, Fillmore, Nuckolls, and Webster counties. Nicole has been with FSA for 13 years, starting out as a program technician until she joined the loan officer team. Prior to joining FSA, she worked for Morrison Enterprises and Cargill. She is a 2004 graduate of University of Nebraska-Lincoln and majored in Agribusiness. She and her husband have three children and reside near Roseland, Nebraska, where her husband manages a diversified row-crop farm operation.

Agritourism: Pumpkins and More
– Tim Vala

As thousands of eager guest’s flood Vala’s Pumpkin
Patch in the fall, it’s hard to believe it all started as a small business with a simple vision of creating a family-friendly, farm experience. Today, Vala’s Pumpkin Patch has grown into a 400-acre operation with nearly 55 acres of pumpkins planted every year. Hear from Tim Vala about how he got started and spark new ideas for your own operation!

1:00 p.m.

The 118th Congress: New Congress New Opportunities
Jordan Dux

With a whole crop of new lawmakers headed to Washington, D.C. in 2023, farmers and ranchers will have new challenges in trying to get our farm and ranch priorities passed. From a new Farm Bill to new regulations, there is plenty on the To-Do List. Come for the jokes but stay to learn how you can take an active role in Farm Bureau’s work to improve the lives of farm and ranch families!

Round 2: 1:45 – 2:45 p.m.

Working your Brand so Your Brand Works for You
– David Schuler

We will explore not just the economic value, but also the emotional value of developing and promoting the brand we wish to ride with on our operation. Discussing how to get started, the commitment, and the benefits of uniting our livelihood the way we see fit. Bring open minds to this refreshing and reflecting workshop!

David Schuler is a 5th generation Rancher in the Panhandle where he and his family are Seedstock Red Angus producers developing purebred and composite bulls that sell at their Annual Sale in March and Bred Heifers sold in the fall.

Grain Marketing in 2023
– Jamison Jensen

This workshop will cover an outlook for 2023 markets with a focus on how to best make decisions for the upcoming crop year.

Jamison has been working at Tredas since 2017. Tredas specializes in helping farms of all shapes and sizes in marketing their crops and livestock from start to finish.

Regenerating the Ranch through Grazing Management
– Hugh Aljoe

Ranch sustainability implies continual improvement of the land, livestock, and economics of an operation. Continual improvement begins with the soil and soil health, and the intentional management of adaptive grazing is the key tool to building soil health and regenerating grazing lands. In this session, Aljoe will describe how adaptive grazing is used to encourage improved soil health which leads to a more productive, more resilient, and more profitable ranch resource.

Aljoe serves as the director of producer relations providing oversight to the 13,500 acres of Noble ranches and the consultation program that serves producers primarily in the Southern Great Plains. He is also a pasture and range consultant. Aljoe joined the Noble Research Institute in 1995. Before joining the Noble Research Institute in 1995, Aljoe served 10 years as the ranch manager of Belvedere Land & Cattle Corp., a 3,900-acre, 1,500-head purebred and commercial cow-calf operation in East Texas that utilized adaptive multi-paddock grazing. Aljoe attended Texas A&M University where he received his BS and MS degrees.

What’s Up with the Agricultural Economy
– Jay Rempe

Ranch sustainability implies continual improvement of the land, livestock, and economics of an operation. Continual improvement begins with the soil and soil health, and the intentional management of adaptive grazing is the key tool to building soil health and regenerating grazing lands. In this session, Aljoe will describe how adaptive grazing is used to encourage improved soil health which leads to a more productive, more resilient, and more profitable ranch resource.

Jay retired at the end of 2022 as the economist for Nebraska Farm Bureau where he was responsible for agricultural economic outlook, policy analysis, research, and education programs. Prior to being the Senior Economist, he served as the Vice President of Governmental Relations for Farm Bureau. With 45 years of experience in agriculture as a farm hand, commodity merchandiser, researcher, lobbyist, and economist, Jay has a long career working in agriculture with expertise on the agricultural economy, tax issues in Nebraska, and water policy. He now is an economic consultant with Rolling Prairie Economics.

Round 3: 3:15 – 4:15 p.m.

Profitable Goat Production for Nebraska
Randy Saner

Are you interested in what it takes to run a profitable goat operation in Nebraska? This workshop will give you the information you need. Randy will cover basic management, marketing, and budgeting for goat production as well as different products that can be produced from goats.

Randy is an Extension Educator and Lead Educator for University of Nebraska –Lincoln Extension in Lincoln Logan and McPherson Counties, responsible for agriculture education focusing on Beef Systems. He also covers questions and programing statewide for Sheep and Goat Production. Randy grew up on a Cattle Ranch in the Sandhills near Dunning Nebraska. He has coordinated many county, regional and state wide programs while working for the different Extension Systems. He is a member of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientist, the Nebraska Cooperative Extension Association and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.

A Proven Pay-off – Simple Steps to Incorporate Safety into Your Farm’s Risk Management Plan
– Ellen Duysen

The goal of this presentation is to describe how producers can include safety into their farm’s risk management plan to reduce costs and improve worker safety while increasing sustainability. Injury and fatality prevention strategies using engineering controls and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) will be presented. A bag of PPE will be provided to all attendees.

Ellen Duysen is a Research Assistant Professor working at the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH), at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health. In addition to working at UNMC for 28 years, Ellen has raised hogs, cattle and three rascally boys on farms in Colorado and southwest Iowa. Life on the farm has provided Ellen a clear understanding of the enumerable hazards that producers and their families face daily. In addition to administrative duties, “boots on the ground” outreach takes Ellen across a seven-states region, training farmers and ranchers on injury prevention, the proper use of respiratory and hearing protection, emergency preparedness and conducting annual tractor safety training for young agricultural workers.

Bridging the Gap
– Brady Revels

Discover ways to successfully build relationships with community and political leaders. From full blown events to round tables to fundraisers, together we will brainstorm ways to be the best advocates for Farm Bureau and Agriculture.

The Hard But Necessary Conversations on Farm Succession Planning
Wesley Tucker

Let’s face it, operating a business with family members is hard enough. Throw in transition planning and the communication divide seems insurmountable. Families are messy – sibling rivalries, dad’s reluctance to share information, conflict between on-farm and off-farm heirs – any of these can destroy a successful farm business. This session dives into the very messy world of family business dynamics and how the overlap of family and business relationships create friction and conflict. We’ll discuss strategies to navigate family and business roles, improve communication, deal with sensitive issues, and form a plan to transition farm ownership and management.

Wesley Tucker is a Farm & Ranch Transition Specialist with University of Missouri Extension. Wesley has a BS and MS in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri, specializing in estate & succession planning, farm labor management, and beef marketing systems. He has 21 years of experience working directly with agricultural producers throughout the Midwest. He serves on the national board of directors for Annie’s Project – Empowering Farm Women and the International Farm Transition Network. A Southwest Missouri native, Wesley grew up on the family beef operation where he farms today. He and his wife, Heather, a local veterinarian, and their daughter, Jordan, operate a commercial cow-calf operation in the Ozarks. As a succession planning specialist, Wesley trains and assists families through complicated family dynamics as they transition to the next generation so both farm and family have the best chance to be successful.

Keynote Speaker

Zippy Duvall has served as president of the American Farm Bureau Federation since 2016. He is a third-generation farmer from Georgia. He and his son operate a beef cow herd, raise broiler chickens and grow their own hay, all while continuing to restore the farmland that has been in the family for more than 90 years.

Through his leadership as AFBF president, Duvall has helped to shape a new farm bill, defeat misguided regulations, shepherd new trade agreements and ensure farmers and ranchers are supported through natural disasters and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2017, Duvall was honored by the National 4-H Council as a founding luminary, a group of influential 4-H alumni. Prior to being elected AFBF president, he was president of the Georgia Farm Bureau and served on the AFBF board of directors. In 1987, he also served a year on the AFBF board as Young Farmer Committee chair.

Duvall and his new wife, Jennifer, were married in December 2021. Both lost their first spouses. With their union, the family has grown from four children and five grandchildren to six children and seven grandchildren.

Conference Tours

Tour 1: Manufacturing: Filters to Harvesters

First Stop: Case IH Plant
Case IH represents more than 175 years of industry experience. With a global presence in more than 160 countries, Case IH is recognized as a global leader in powerful, reliable, and highly efficient equipment that helps professional farmers meet the challenges of modern farming. Grand Island Manufacturing Operations is home to the Case IH Axial-Flow Combines. In addition, this facility produces several types of Hay & Forage equipment, including Case IH self-propelled wind rowers.

Second Stop: Baldwin Filters
Baldwin Filters is a global provider of filtration products and services. Their mission is to protect customers’ engines and mobile equipment, from first to last use, through innovative filtration solutions and outstanding customer service. Baldwin offers superb product quality, an extensive distribution network and the industry’s broadest product line. The company is known worldwide as not only a vertically integrated manufacturer with unsurpassed product quality, but also a world-class distribution company encompassing nearly 1 million square feet in the Kearney, NE plant alone world-class distribution company encompassing nearly 1 million square feet in the Kearney, NE plant alone.

Tour 2: Oil and Gas: CBD Oil & Ethanol

First Stop: Sweetwater Hemp Company
Sweetwater Hemp Company LLC was started by the Cruise Family of Pleasanton, Nebraska in 2017. They are fourth and fifth generation farmers with over 150 continuous years of farming. Hemp has been illegal to grow in the United States since World War II. By means of an updated Farm Bill in December 2018, hemp is now federally legal in all fifty states. This bill changed hemp from a controlled substance to an untapped agricultural commodity. Nebraska has reacted to this change and as a result, the State collected applications for the December 2019 distribution of hemp cultivation, extraction, and processing licenses. Sweetwater Hemp Company LLC has licenses to cultivate, extract, process, and handle hemp. The Cruise Family has several successful agricultural related businesses including an acre-plus sized Fresh Herbs Greenhouse where they sell to over 300 Wal-Mart locations; Transportation Company, where they manage a dedicated fleet that transports goods across the Midwest; and they also farm 3300 acres of corn and soybeans every season.

Second Stop: KAAPA Ethanol Ravenna
Kaapa Ethanol, LLC was founded in 2001 and in September of 2002, construction was initiated on the ethanol plant in Minden. The Minden ethanol plant began operations in the Fall of 2003 with a 40-million-gallon capacity. Over the next decade, several acquisitions and expansions took place including increasing the Minden ethanol plant’s capacity to 60 million gallons, purchasing KAAPA Grains in Elm Creek, and purchasing a controlling interest in an Ohio ethanol plant. In January 2013, KAAPA Ethanol Holdings, LLC was formed. That same year a portion of a North Dakota ethanol plant was purchased; that facility has a 130-million-gallon capacity. In 2016, the Ravenna ethanol plant was purchased and one year later the capacity was expanded to 110 million gallons. Another expansion of that facility was completed in 2019, increasing the capacity to 125 million gallons.Another expansion of that facility was completed in 2019, increasing the capacity to 125 million gallons.

Tour 3: Drunk History: The Archway & Craft Brews

First Stop: The Archway
Since it opened in 2000, the Archway has stood as an enduring tribute to the adventurers who traveled the Great Platte River Road though Nebraska and helped to build America. Over the years, The Archway has welcomed and inspired over 1.5 million visitors with their story. The Archway preserves history, shares their story, and inspires visitors to participate in the American adventure of discovery, innovation, and leadership.

Second Stop: Canyon Lakes Brewing Company
The owners, Michael and Jessica Bliven, are Lexington natives. After living in Colorado for several years, they moved their family back to the Lexington area. Michael’s passion for brewing began when Jessica bought him a small brewing kit for Christmas 14 years ago. He started with a small brewing system in his garage, brewing for family and friends. Once he got started, there was seldom a celebration that didn’t include his famous homebrew. He spent years perfecting his recipes, with countless taste testers and lots of encouragement. Eventually entering some brews in a local brewing competition and walking away with some awards. When the couple decided to move back to their roots, they decided to make their dreams of brewing beer for the masses a reality.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Supporting the YF&R Conference is a good investment. Your sponsorship includes targeted marketing and visibility opportunities for your business and provides an innovative and meaningful conference to the next generation of young farmers, ranchers, and industry leaders.

Hotel Room Reservations

Hotel rooms are available at the Crown Plaza in Kearney for $115/night. You will need to call the hotel directly and ask for the Farm Bureau rate. The Crown Plaza’s phone number is 1-308-238-7000.

2022 YF&R Conference Photos

2022 Young Farmers & Ranchers Conference