The Future Food Producers

4/8/2014 2:45:23 PM
Dalene Hodnett

The Future Food Producers

by Dalene Hodnett, Director of Communications and Media Relations

While nation-wide the number of farmers and ranchers is dwindling, in New Mexico two groups that encourage youth to follow an agricultural career path are growing. NMSU Collegiate Farm Bureau and the NMF&LB Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee have seen significant increase in their membership in the last couple of years.  “We are working hard to attract new members and that effort is paying off,” says Danielle Lowry, YF&R Committee Chair.

These two groups have been very active of late and one of their latest endeavors was to make hill visits, connecting with congressional members Ben Ray Lujan, Michelle Lujan-Grisham, and Senator Tom Udall.  “This was an excellent opportunity to give voice to the concerns of New Mexico’s food producers,” said Joseph Ogden, President of NMSU Collegiate Farm Bureau. “We appreciate the time they spent with us.”

Leaving D.C., the group attended the American Farm Bureau Federation’s National YF&R Conference in Virginia Beach. Joel Alderete, YF&R Coordinator said the conference was a good experience.  “The sessions were timely and informative, and it really motivated our members to become more active.”

In addition to seminars on current issues and the future of agriculture, the conference also hosted a discussion meet where Sam Fisher, winner of the NMF&LB Collegiate Discussion Meet, competed against other state representatives where she made it to the Sweet 16. Also at the national meeting, Dustin Johnson was recognized for his years of service on the National YF&R Committee. Dustin served a two year term, beginning in 2012, on the 16 member board.

The NMF&LB YF&R Committee was also awarded a $500 prize for their innovative program which helped the Roadrunner® Food Bank feed needy families across
the state.  As part of the American Farm Bureau’s “Harvest for All” program, the NMF&LB YF&R Committee collected food and monetary donations throughout the year accumulating over $3,600 and 375 pounds of food. “Working with the Roadrunner Food Bank has allowed farmers and ranchers to give back to their local communities in these economically difficult times,” said Lowry.  “This is an example of neighbors helping neighbors and we are pleased to be able to provide so much assistance.”