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A look back at highlights from AFBF virtual convention

stu99/ThinkstockPhotos Farm scene on rural road
Young farmers and ranchers honored, Sonny Perdue says farewell and Farm Dog of the Year named.

American Farm Bureau Federation's first virtual convention concluded this week, with AFBF setting policy, announcing contest winners and listening to motivational speeches.

Key policy topics included farm labor, livestock marketing and milk pricing formulas.

Entrepreneurs

Harvust won the seventh annual Ag Innovation Challenge. The Walla Walla, Washington, company has created a software platform that helps farmers hire, train and communicate with employees. The company received a total of $50,000 in prize money.

Agro Empresas Black Belt of Coamo, Puerto Rico, won the People's Choice Award, which is decided by public vote, and received a total of $20,000. Luis Raimundo Bures Martinez, a Puerto Rico Farm Bureau member, is the company's leader.

Young Farmer and Rancher awards

East Idaho farmer Marquee Ricks won the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet, an event meant to hone the public speaking skills of young farmers and ranchers.

Caleb and Leanne Ragland of Kentucky won the AFBF YF&R Achievement Award. Runners-up are Jacob and Emily Nolan of Georgia. Matthew and Shelbie Heldreth of Virginia won third place.

The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities.

Jackie Mundt of Kansas won the Excellence in Agriculture Award. The runners-up in the Excellence in Agriculture contest are Casey and Kelli Snider of Utah. The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations. 

Jon Iverson of Oregon is the new chairman of the AFBF Young Farmer and Rancher Committee.

Top dog

The Farm Dog of the Year is Bindi, an Australian Shepherd who helps New York Farm Bureau member Sonja Galley round up cattle on her family's 60-cow dairy farm. The dog saved her owner, who was pinned to the ground by an angry heifer.

Decision-making

Farm Bureau members also held their business session.

Guest speakers

Mike Rowe, who is best known for his TV series, Dirty Jobs, gave a presentation. Rowe is also the CEO of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, through which he seeks to debunk myths and misperceptions about blue-collar jobs. His foundation has granted millions of dollars in scholarships to help close the skills gap.

Outgoing Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue gave a virtual address in which he thanked Farm Bureau members for their support.

There were also educational sessions, including an economic outlook in which three economists offered their views and one in which Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford joined American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall to discuss agriculture.

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