Young Farmers tackle issues of the land, the law and "the loo"
by Becky Talley
Fence Post Staff Reporter
It’s a chance once a year to get together and talk shop. Agricultural producers from each corner of the state of Colorado congregate in one place to talk about farming, ranching and how to preserve their rural way of life.
These members of the Colorado Young Farmers Educational Association have come to expect an educational, informative Annual Institute that is always a good time and this year’s convention didn’t let them down.
The 33rd Annual Colorado Young Farmers Educational Association Institute was held Feb. 1-2 in Fort Collins, Colo. The institute hosted seminars, speakers, contests and a trade show, all for the education of the Colorado Young Farmers.
The Colorado Young Farmers is a very popular association with 26 chapters statewide. It is not only confined to those that farm and ranch; educators are also involved with the association. Tom Scarlett, Young Farmer coordinator for the San Luis Valley chapter, is a full-time educator and does not farm or ranch.
Educators are welcome in the association because many universities and colleges offer educational credit to Young Farmer members.
“Young Farmers is an educational program that allows farmers to get together, upgrade skills, provide leadership opportunities and have opportunities for social experience,” said Scarlett.
The number of Young Farmers in the state was reflected in this year’s Institute attendance. According to Jack Annan, Colorado Young Farmer executive secretary, over 225 members and guests attended this year’s Institute which was hosted by the Brush Chapter.
A workshop was offered each day on topics important to agriculture. The first workshop, titled, “The Law of the Land,” was presented to a full audience by Justin Cumming, attorney at law. Cumming covered landowner liability, fence law and agricultural lease issues ” all critical topics for today’s farmer.
“In this arena, people have the most questions about people coming on their land,” said Cumming.
In addition to the workshops, a speaker was brought in for a interesting luncheon talk. Dr. Joe Jeffrey came all the way from Lexington, Neb., to share his thoughts on that necessary building out back … the outhouse. In his talk, titled “How the REA Wiped out the WPA,” Jeffrey covered the Depression, and how President Roosevelt’s recovery programs had made “the loo in the yard” obsolete.
In agriculture, it is important for organizations to have an informed spokesperson. An annual Spokesperson for Agriculture contest is held every year to promote participation from the Young Farmer chapters, enhance public speaking skills of men and women by encouraging competition and further educate the general public about issues in agriculture.
This year’s Colorado Spokesperson for Agriculture contest was won by Cindy Johnston. Johnston, of the Front Range Chapter, beat out three other contestants and will represent the state at the National Institute Spokesperson contest in Oklahoma City, Okla., in December.
In addition to the speakers and seminars, the Young Farmers were also offered a chance to visit the trade show that consisted of several booths representing many of the agricultural businesses in the area.
This year there were over 20 booths to peruse, ranging from Mary Kay to the Northern Colorado Water Conservation District.
The Institute attendees were given a check sheet (to be used in a prize drawing) in order to ensure that they had gotten to all the booths and had spoke to at least one of the representatives.
Not only did the trade show benefit the visitors, but the businesses were glad to be there as well.
“We have been supporting the Young Farmers for a long time. A lot of them are our customers,” said Jerry Uhrig of Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.
Next year’s convention will be held in Durango, Colo., and will be hosted by the Ignacio Chapter.
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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign SB 21-87, known as the Farm Workers Bill of Rights, though much of the content will be decided through the rulemaking process.