MFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference Offers Networking for Younger Producers

by Brett McRae

The Montana Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership conference was February ninth through the eleventh in Billings.

The conference was organized by the MFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, it was an opportunity for younger farmers and ranchers to network while listening to keynote speakers and participating in workshops.

Attendees enjoyed dinner and bingo on Friday night and on Saturday morning the event began with keynote speaker Lance Pekus an Idaho rancher and former competitor on the “American Ninja Warrior” extreme fitness reality tv show. Lance shared his personal journey overcoming obstacles in his life to achieve success.

Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee Member Bronya Willmore with the Fergus County Farm Bureau said it was inspiring to listen to Lance’s story of adversity and perseverance.

“I think it’s huge to hear from somebody that has accomplished such amazing things… It’s empowering to know that they face the same struggles day to day that we all go through and to see what they’ve overcome and how successful they’ve been, and know that we can do that, too.”

Other keynote speakers included Bruce Vincent from Libby, the operator of a family logging business who shared a passionate message of advocating for natural resource industries, and Sarah Calhoun the founder of the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs.  

The leadership conference also featured breakout sessions on topics like ag lending, cattle nutrition, rural mental health and carbon markets. Ag Tech Support Manager for RDO equipment Nathan Schlief gave a presentation on precision agriculture, talking about how it can increase efficiency on a farm or ranch.  

“If you look at the margins today that we deal with and how small they are, how expensive commercial fertilizer and chemicals are, …hopefully, it makes us more efficient, some of these technologies give us more time to spend with our family. [This technology] can take some of the work and the stress maybe off of us so that we can live a more wholesome life and spend more time with family.”

Finally, there were off-site tours of the Yellowstone Valley Food Hub and Swanky Roots Aquaponics greenhouse in addition to a low stress cattle handling presentation from Curt Pate.

Young Farmers and Ranchers committee member Vic Lewis from Lavina said the conference provided great information for younger producers and the opportunity to connect with one another.

“It gives a good opportunity for young producers to come together. We all have similar struggles on family operations, and this is a place to meet with like-minded people to talk about those struggles that everybody deals with, to help you address them better on your own places.”

On Saturday night Miles City’s Stolen Roan provided excellent music for dancing at the Pub Station in downtown Billings.


Northern Ag Network

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