Young farmers get the dirt on agricultural issues.
By VERONICA GORLEY
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
LISBON -- The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation plans a contest for young farmers to exchange ideas on national agricultural issues.
The OFBF Young Farmer Discussion is an exercise in issue debate, said Nancy Cope, Columbiana County Farm Bureau director.
The competition is a more formal version of farm bureau advisory council meetings, where council members discuss weighty issues, in hopes that farmers will get involved in agricultural discussion at a young age.
How it works: In the competition, the moderator and contestants exchange information about practical problems that farmers must confront, such as farm economy and global warming, in a format much like a panel discussion.
Eligible contestants must be between 18 and 35 years old and farmer-voting members of the Columbiana County Farm Bureau.
Previous state winners, current members of the state Young Farmer Committee and farmers who have received a fee or honoriarum for public speaking may not participate.
"The purpose is to surface new leaders in the agricultural community, and give some people practical experience with discussing things with people outside their area and around the state and the country," Cope said.
Time to prepare: The competitors are given a topic ahead of time to prepare for the contest. The aim is for contestants not only to be knowledgeable in the topic but also to encourage others to participate in the discussion, said Cope.
Contestants travel to Akron to compete in the northeastern Ohio regional competition. Winners of the regional competitions will then advance in August to the state competition in an all expense-paid trip to OFBF's Leadership Conference in Columbus.
Four finalists will be chosen to compete in the state finals at the annual meeting in December.
The state winner will represent Ohio in the American Farm Bureau Federation Discussion Meet in an-all- expense-paid trip to the AFBF annual meeting Jan. 6-9, 2002, in Reno, Nev. The state winner also will win a chime clock and cash award from Nationwide Insurance.
Big prize: The prize for the national contest is a 2002 Dodge Ram pickup truck.
"People who participate in things like this meet friends they'll have for the rest of their lives," Cope said. "A lot of times, young farmers have spent so much of their time working that they don't have time to find out what other farms and farmers are doing."
Registration for the discussion meet ends July 20. For more information or entry forms, contact the Columbiana County Farm Bureau office Tuesdays and Thursdays.