LARAMIE—Niobrara County rancher Heather Hamilton discussed agriculture issues at a recent Wyoming Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion Meet and earned $500 cash and a trip to Nashville, Tenn.  Hamilton competed Nov. 17 with other young farmers and ranchers in the event held at the Wyoming Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Laramie.

“It is truly an honor to be selected from such an exceptional and well-spoken group of people to represent Wyoming at the National YF&R Discussion Meet,” Heather Hamilton stated.  “I’m looking forward to providing a western rancher’s perspective at that contest.”

Hamilton will represent the Wyoming Farm Bureau in the American Farm Bureau Federation Discussion Meet Jan. 13-14, 2013 in Nashville, Tenn.  The winner at the national level receives the choice of a Chevrolet Silverado truck or a GMC Sierra truck donated by GM.  The three runner-ups receive a Case IH Farmall tractor, $2,500 cash and a Stihl Farm Boss chainsaw.


The competition is designed to simulate a committee meeting where discussion and active participation are expected from each committee member.  The competition was open to Wyoming Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18-35. 

Albany County Farm Bureau member Stacy Berger was the runner-up in the competition.  The other finalists were:  Kyle Berger, Albany County, and Cole Coxbill, Goshen County.

“Learning how to identify a topic of discussion, listen to all perspectives, involve all parties at the table, then agree on potentially implementable solutions are all key areas of focus within the format of a Farm Bureau Discussion Meet,” Hamilton said.  “These are critical skills for young agriculturalists to cultivate as we take on more of the responsibilities in our family operations, and in efficiently combating the issues facing our industry.”

“Just as it always has been, one key area of agriculture’s future success lies in our ability to effectively identify, then defend or oppose ideas, rules, regulations and laws that will benefit or harm us,” Hamilton continued.  “Participating in the WyFB YF&R Discussion Meet improved my ability to do these things at all levels.”

Contestants are given pre-determined topics.  They are judged on their knowledge, speaking ability, ability to participate in a committee meeting and listen to others and air all points of view. 

The participants competed in two rounds of competition.  The first round topic focused on transferring operations to the next generation of farmers and ranchers and what the role of Farm Bureau should be in this process.   In the second round they discussed how to encourage young farmers and ranchers to return home to the farm when living in a rural area does not provide the same amenities as a metropolitan community. 

“It was exciting to sit down with people my own age, and talk about the issues that are of such large importance to our industry,” Hamilton stated.  “Yes, it was a contest.  But, it was not a debate, and having the chance to discuss how we get other young people to return to our family operations, how to successfully transfer those operations to the next generation, and Farm Bureau’s role in the process was enlightening, informative and fun, for both myself as a competitor, and for the audience of older agriculturalists who listened to our thoughts and ideas.”

 “The Farm Bureau Federation, which is different than the insurance side of Farm Bureau, has long been the strongest voice for American agriculturalists,” Hamilton concluded.  “Having that scale and quality behind an organization means that when you involve yourself in any way, such as through a Discussion Meet, you are learning and competing with the best.  The WyFB YF&R program is specially designed to help producers under 35 learn the ropes of the Farm Bureau organization and I encourage everyone to get involved in YF&R activities through Farm Bureau.”

“The competition is a great opportunity for young farmers and rancher to put their knowledge into a competition and also show them the opportunities available through Wyoming Farm Bureau’s YF&R program,” Raenell Taylor, WyFB YF&R State Chair, said. 

            The Wyoming Farm Bureau YF&R program provides leadership, networking, educational and competitive event opportunities to Wyoming agriculturalists between the ages of 18-35.  To learn more, visit them on Facebook and on the web at