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January 11, 2010   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
January 11, 2010

AFBF President Bob Stallman, right, congratulates Will Gilmer on his new position as chairman of the national Young Farmers and Ranchers committee during the closing session. Stallman presented Gilmer a diamond lapel pin that symbolizes the young farmer's new leadership position.
SEATTLE, Jan. 11 -- A Lamar County dairy farmer who's developed a national following for his Dairyman's Blog and tractor-seat Twitter posts was elected chairman of the American Farm Bureau Federation's Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee during the organization's 91 annual meeting in Seattle.

Will Gilmer, who farms with his father, David, was elected Saturday to a one-year term as chairman. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman officially congratulated Gilmer on his new position during the closing session of the annual meeting Monday afternoon.

Gilmer, 30, called the chairmanship an opportunity to build on the foundation that's been established in recent years of using the YF&R committee as a tool to help tell farmers' stories.

"Through the Dairyman's Blog and other avenues I've had a chance to talk about animal care, environmental stewardship and food security," Gilmer said. "I hope we can get more farmers involved in reaching out to people, whether it be one-on-one, through farm tours, traditional media or social media. I believe the more of us that do that and the more people we can help have a personal relationship with agriculture, the better understanding they will have of what we (farmers) are doing."

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry A. Newby, who developed his own leadership skills in the young farmers program, said the new position would help Gilmer grow within the organization.

"It's another opportunity for one of our young leaders to learn and become a better leader," Newby said. "I'm excited about Will being elected to this position. He did an outstanding job as state young farmers chairman (in 2008), and he will do an outstanding job as national chairman."

Gilmer is the second Alabama farmer in three years to chair the national group. In 2008, Hale County catfish farmer Townsend Kyser was elected to the post.

Gilmer said the biggest challenge facing young farmers today is the negative sentiment toward agriculture being promoted by outside influences.

"The pressure being applied to agriculture externally puts us in a perilous position," Gilmer said. "It's hard to make the capital investment in our farms we need to when we could be one ballot initiative away from not being able to farm."

In accepting the position, which will require him to be away from home about 100 days in 2010, Gilmer thanked his family as well as the Farmers Federation.

"I appreciate all of the Federation members who support the young farmers program," he said. "It has proven to be an effective program to develop young farmers and prepare them to take on leadership roles locally, statewide and nationally."

Gilmer holds a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering, technology and business from Mississippi State University. He and wife, Joni, have a son, Linton, 4, and a daughter, Jillian, 9 months.

Gilmer's Web site is www.gilmerdairyfarm.com. From there, visitors can access the Dairyman's Blog and connect with the dairyman through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The American Farm Bureau Federation's Young Farmers and Ranchers program includes both men and women between the ages of 18-35.

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