Tag Archives: Farm Bureau

LINCOLN, NEB. –During a national affairs trip to Washington, D.C., members of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s (NEFB) Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Committee asked for more economic stability and pushed for the passage of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) this fall.

“It’s important for our young agricultural leaders to travel to Washington, D.C. to let Nebraska’s Congressional delegation know how important issues like USMCA, trade with China, and broadband expansion is so important to young farmers and ranchers,” Mark McHargue, NEFB first vice president said, July 18. McHargue farms and raises livestock near Central City.

The passage of the new USMCA remains a top priority for Nebraska Farm Bureau. Lance Atwater, who farms near Ayr and serves as youth at-large on the NEFB board of directors, asked Nebraska’s congressional delegation to take up and pass the new agreement quickly to provide a level of certainty for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.

“In 2017, Nebraska sold $979 million of major agriculture commodities to Canada and $889 million to Mexico. We must ensure free and open access with two of our largest trading partners and closest allies. We need to create stability for younger producers,” Atwater said.

Improving trade rations with China was also a heavily discussed topic during the national affairs visit. Chairs of the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, Jason and Karah Perdue, raise grain and livestock near York and also serve as South Central representatives on the YF&R Committee. Lack of access to the Chinese market has already imposed clear economic strain to Nebraska’s agricultural and overall economy.

“In 2017, Nebraska sold $937 million of Nebraska commodities to China. We need good outcomes to current negotiations with China, Japan, and the European Union,” Jason Perdue said.

Nebraska Farm Bureau leaders also talked about rural broadband and how important it is to farmers and ranchers and their bottom lines. Luke and Erin Norman are ranchers near Crawford, Nebraska in Dawes County. Internet connection in rural areas is sketchy at best.

“Farmers and ranchers depend on broadband just as they do highways, railways, and waterways, to ship food, fuel, and fiber across the country and around the world. Current and future generations of rural Nebraskans are being left behind because they are without affordable high-speed internet service. We asked our congressional delegation to support a bill called the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2019,” Luke Norman said.

“While the list of challenges young farmers and ranchers face is long, the need for young people in agriculture to answer the call of growing food for our nation and world remains as strong as ever. Continuing to communicate our message to key decision makers is vital to the future success of our farm and ranch families,” McHargue said.

Those attending the National Affairs visit were:

Mark and Judi McHargue, Mark serves as first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau – Merrick County

Lance and Krystal Atwater, Lance serves as Youth At-Large, NEFB Board of Directors – Adams County

Jason and Karah Perdue, Chairs on the YF&R Committee – York County

Luke and Erin Norman, Northwest Region representatives on the YF&R Committee – Dawes County

I was born in January 1997 and turned 22 this year. I will graduate from college just before I turn 23, entering into a moderately healthy job market. I was four years old when terrorists attacked our country on 9/11 and have almost no recollection of the immediate effects that event had on our country. But my entire childhood was spent living in a nation at war.

All of this information about my life can be summed up in one phrase: I am one of nearly 61 million members of Generation Z. I am part of the generation after Millennials and have a message for the next crop of agriculturalists, my fellow Gen Z’ers. So, if you were born after 1996, sit down, make sure your phone is charged, and let’s have a chat.

Here’s the thing: The Pew Research Center reports our generation is on track to be the most educated generation in history, yet only 13% of us were raised in a rural area. This means that agriculture needs us, because agriculture needs smart people who are interested in feeding, fueling and clothing the world.

But agriculture doesn’t just need you to hang around the farm from the day you are born until the day you die, content with doing things the way your parents do, or your grandparents did.

Agriculture needs people who are college-educated, have off-the-farm experiences and see the world through a broader lens, because the challenges rural America will face in the coming decades require modern solutions. Leave the farm for a few years to get your degree or for a decade to work in an industry unrelated to agriculture. You will be better for your experiences outside of your own fencerows. Your farm will be better for those experiences, too.

I also want you to know that agriculture has a place for you, even if it is not directly working on the farm. I hope you can find a place on the farm, but agriculture, as we used to say in my high school FFA chapter, is “more than cows, sows and plows.” Agriculture needs you in the board room, in the laboratory and in regional sales offices across the country. It needs you in the corner office of a local bank, in classrooms from Pomona, Kansas, to Pomona, California, and in the halls of Congress.

If there is only one thing you take away from this message, I hope it is that agriculture needs you to think outside of your farm, your hometown, your state. Agriculture needs you to dream bigger, even if it is only for a little while. It’s no secret that agriculture is struggling today, but it is people like you and me who will drive the industry forward, as long as we embrace the challenges of belonging to the next crop.

I recently attended the FUSION Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which brought together more than 1,200 Farm Bureau volunteer leaders from across the country from Promotion & Education, Women’s Leadership and Young Farmers & Ranchers programs.

What a remarkable trip to see fellow agriculturalists come together in one place and tell their stories about how and why they believe ag is a mainstay in America!

As an ag broadcaster and member of the Montana Farm Bureau and its P&E Committee, it was a pleasure to visit with other members from around the country who deal with concerns and issues that affect all aspects of agriculture production.

With my background of reporting on farming and ranching concerns our ag folks deal with on a regular basis, I found the message from Redmond Ramos inspiring.

What an amazing outlook on life Redmond presented! His positive, “second chance on life” message should be an inspiration to us all. Redmond was injured serving our country, eventually losing his leg. As a corpsman in the United States Marines Corps, he was defending and protecting you and me, so we could celebrate the freedoms many take for granted.

Redmond brought a message of hope that we all should hear loud and clear. Stop whining, stop feeling sorry for yourself and go out and get it done. For example, in the Amazing Race he was asked to row a boat with his feet, although he only has one. He didn’t feel handicapped or pity for himself. Instead, he described the need to ask others for help and be willing to accept what you can and can’t control. In the world of ag, we need to do that as well. Seek help, accept what you can control and what you cannot, but always continue to recognize your worth in ag production. We can all take away a valuable lesson and an inspirational message to share.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend a conference where all attendees gained knowledge and inspiration to successfully continue in the world of agriculture.

Leadership is an absolutely humanistic element sought in all areas of our lives: school, church, work, family, community and government. A few years ago, an interview with author Simon Sinek went viral on YouTube because it was so relatable. He explained how 35 years of raising kids to think that everyone is a winner, in conjunction with the explosion of social media and digital technology, has had some detrimental side effects to the workplace. The impact has left employers feeling the need to step up and find ways to reverse some of the effects. But the greater question is, does this go beyond just the workplace and will this lead to a leadership crisis everywhere?

There is certainly an exhaustive list of the benefits we’ve received from the digital revolution of the last four decades. But like the rapid-fire disclaimer of all those side effects listed in the ad for the latest anxiety medication (which would cause more anxiety I would think!), we should be aware of where humanistic elements are essential and may be harmed from the reliance on technology.

Sinek explains, awarding every child regardless of achievement has created a lack of confidence and a sense of entitlement. Addiction to social media and gaming has starved a generation of person-to-person interactions, relationship building, imagination and allowing their minds to wander and create. Every technology which makes our lives easier also creates an expectation of instant gratification.

Sarah Moulton of Human Capital Leadership Institute points out that there are four leadership traits that cannot be replaced by artificial intelligence: reassuring communication, human touch, establishing rapport and creativity. This means they need to be cultivated in us…the humans!

Reassuring communication is critical because technology cannot teach or convey hope, essentially. The human touch relates to problem-solving based upon the needs of a unique individual or group; dedication to seeing the solution through. Establishing rapport creates trust and empathy which is needed for people to work successfully towards the same goal. Moulton references Eric Wahl’s explanation of creativity by saying, “Intellect without intuition makes for a smart person without impact.”

At Arizona Farm Bureau we see great value in youth leadership programs such as the Arizona FFA and Arizona 4-H. These organizations provide opportunities to both urban and rural youth and instill the value of hard work, responsibility, leadership, ingenuity, problem-solving and persistence through a myriad of programs offered to fit all sorts of interests. Aren’t these the qualities of leadership we all want to guide the future?

It is true that the Age of Social Media has shifted our axis and we don’t yet know what greatness and cost will result, but I don’t believe Sinek has spent much time around Blue Jackets (FFA students) or the 4-H Creed. Believe me, there is very little instant gratification in agriculture, as those of us involved in it know. These youth are confident because they have earned their reward and they must interact with their peers to get the job done. Their minds have been engaged and broadened through the many projects the programs offer. As long as these programs remain robust with our support, there will be no leadership crisis in agriculture or elsewhere.