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Young farmers attend Farm Bureau YF&R Leadership Conference

The Missouri Farm Bureau (MOFB) Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Leadership Conference was back at the Lake of the Ozarks Margaritaville Resort after a one-year hiatus. Considered one of the largest state YF&R conferences in the country, the February 11-12 event attracted close to 600 people. Those attending from Howell County enjoyed a weekend away from farm chores to catch up with their peers and the latest industry news.
MOFB's YF&R Committee organizes the conference for farmers ages 18 to 35. The 2020 and 2021 committees combined to plan this year's conference.
MOFB President and Appleton City farmer Garrett Hawkins opened the conference, touching on the theme United We Stand. "Missouri is a special place in agriculture," he said. "Our industry is diverse, our state is the bridge between southern and Midwestern agriculture. The Kansas City region is the global hub for animal health innovation, while the St. Louis region has more plant science PhD's than any other area in the world." It all starts with our Missouri farmers and ranchers. "Farm Bureau represents the diversity of agricultural production and our members' operations come in all size. We know that to bring our kids back home to the farm, we have to ensure our communities are thriving. Our policies defend and support that."
Breakout sessions gave young farmers a chance to share who they are with fellow farmers. Topics covered how geopolitical and regulatory pressures affect input cost, farm markets, drone use, soil testing and keeping livestock healthy. Fifteen different sessions had something for everyone, including wine and beer tasting.
Five young farmers competed in the MOFB YF&R Discussion Meet during the conference. After two rounds, judges named Cameron Locke of Cedar County winner. Second place went to Travis Ellis of DeKalb County. Locke won $500 awards from Ford Motor Company and the MOFB Foundation for Agriculture. He will compete for the national prize of a new Ford pickup at the AFBF annual meeting in Puerto Rico this January.
Walk. Ride. Rodeo. Those three words were put into perspective by keynote speaker Amberly Snyder. The champion horse-riding barrel racer overcame physical challenges after an auto accident to continue her passion for horses. She shared her story of going from walking and riding horses to learning how to become a champion in the saddle again after being paralyzed from the waist down.
New chair of the MOFB YF&R Committee, Bryant Kagay of Maysville, closed out the meeting. He thanked MOFB Insurance Companies for their sponsorship. More than 60 companies and individuals lend their support to the conference. Those attending from Howell County included Dustin, Danielle, Conner and Ava Collins, and Clint Hinds.
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