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February 22, 2010   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
February 22, 2010

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- More than 300 young farmers from throughout Alabama will gather in Montgomery Feb. 26-28 for the Alabama Farmers Federation's Young Farmers Leadership Conference.

The event, which is being held at the Renaissance Hotel, will include educational workshops, the Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) competition and a pedal tractor pull for the participants' children. Brandon Moore, director of the Federation's Young Farmers program, said the conference gives the Federation's up-and-coming leaders a chance to learn lessons that will help them on the farm as well as spend time with other agricultural families.

"The Young Farmers Leadership Conference helps young Alabama producers get involved in agriculture and prepare for their future with leadership development and personal growth," Moore said. "This conference allows them to come together from all over the state, share ideas and concerns and then return to their counties knowing there is a large network of young agriculturalists that faces the same challenges and opportunities."

The conference begins Friday with an opening banquet sponsored by First South Farm Credit. On Saturday, the young farmers will participate in workshops on topics ranging from precision agriculture to human resource management. Farmers also will represent 11 different commodities as they compete in the Outstanding Young Farm Family contest.

Winners will be recognized at the Saturday night banquet. Commodity division winners will receive $200 each and will be invited to serve as ex-officio members of the Federation's state committee for their respective commodities. Six finalists will be selected from among the commodity winners to compete this summer for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2010.

The overall winner will be announced at the Federation's annual meeting in December. Prizes include a year's use of a new vehicle from the Federation, a John Deere Gator from Alabama Farm Credit and Alabama Ag Credit (formerly Federal Land Bank), a personal computing package from ValCom CSS Wireless and $500 from Dodge. The state winner will go on to represent Alabama at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 2011 annual meeting in Atlanta.

Throughout the conference, the Federation Young Farmers group will conduct a silent auction to benefit the Alabama Farmers Agricultural Foundation. Auction items are donated by county Young Farmers groups as well as businesses and individuals. Another popular event is a pedal tractor pull for children of the young farmers. In the event, children on toy tractors use kid power to pull a weighted sled.

In addition to the OYFF awards program, the closing banquet will feature a keynote address by Lamar County dairy farmer Will Gilmer. In January, Gilmer was elected chairman of the American Farm Bureau Federation's Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. As national chairman, Gilmer hopes to encourage more farmers to share their stories through social media. Gilmer has earned a national following for his tractor-seat Twitter posts, dairy cow-inspired YouTube music videos and Dairyman's Blog.

For more information about the Federation's Young Farmers program, contact Moore at 334-612-5159, bmoore@alfafarmers.org or visit AlfaYoungFarmers.org.

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