Next week, thousands of Farm Bureau members will be in Salt Lake City for the 105th American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. Much like our own state annual meeting, contests will be held, county and state Farm Bureaus will be recognized, and national Farm Bureau policies are set to be voted on and enacted for 2024. The convention takes place January 19-24, and I’m excited to say that Missouri Farm Bureau (MOFB) members will be in the thick of convention activities once again.

Receiving national attention in the AFBF County Activities of Excellence program will be both Cape Girardeau and Webster counties. The two are among 24 counties selected nationally by AFBF to showcase their programs during the convention’s trade show. Members of the Cape Girardeau Farm Bureau will happily talk about their “Choo Choose Agriculture” program as convention goers pass their booth. Their August event provided Agriculture in the Classroom lessons on a moving train.

Webster County Farm Bureau’s “Southwest Shindig” will also garner attention, as they hosted an October fellowship event on a century farm. Members connected with local political and community leaders, and everyone was entertained with a “Pie Off” contest. These counties are doing tremendous work in their communities, and we couldn’t be prouder to watch them on display in the Beehive State.

Hundreds of eyes will also be on several of Missouri’s young farmers competing in national contests.

After being selected state winners in December, Kyla and Dustin Estes will compete for the Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Excellence in Agriculture Award. The contest recognizes young farmers and ranchers who are involved in production agriculture but receive the majority of their income from off-farm activities or employment. The couple from Bollinger County raise their own herd of cattle and also help on the farm owned by Kyla’s father.

Hala Edquist of Wright County will take part in the AFBF YF&R Discussion Meet, having won Missouri’s contest during the MOFB YF&R Conference last February.

Awards for the national YF&R contest winners are impressive, with Ford providing $35,000 towards a new Ford truck for the top prize in each contest. Runners-up receive $20,000 from Case IH. To help our members compete, our own MOFB Foundation for Agriculture underwrites travel expenses to Salt Lake City. It is another way we can show our appreciation for what these individuals and our county Farm Bureaus can accomplish.

AFBF’s General Sessions, workshops, contests and a huge trade show stack up into one impressive convention. I particularly look forward to representing our state, along with our state board members, as voting delegates at the business session. Policy development is the heart of Farm Bureau, and at the national level, the diversity and unity of agriculture is evident every year on the delegate floor.

It will be a fast-paced schedule in Salt Lake City, but I can’t wait to gather with my fellow Farm Bureau members as we navigate new frontiers in agriculture.