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Time for young farmers to make voices heardTime for young farmers to make voices heard

Start small and tell agriculture’s story to local elected officials.

Mindy Ward

February 20, 2019

3 Min Read
Jaime Johansen and daughter Harper
SPEAKING UP: Jamie Johansen knows why she is involved in forging agriculture’s future — her young daughter, Harper.

Young farmers and ranchers need to be a voice in agriculture discussions.

“You can’t go home and complain, if you are not willing to get your boots on and get dirty,” says Jamie Johansen, Missouri Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers chairwoman.  

Johansen recently took the helm of the state’s largest young farmer program. She says advocating for agriculture needs to be done at the county, state and national level.

“We need to be taking our voice to elected officials,” she says. “If we aren’t doing it, who will?”

The fourth-generation cattle producer spends her career traveling the world, telling the story of agriculture and its producers as an agricultural journalist. Still, she feels a need to be involved on the local level.

Heading home
Johansen, along with her husband, Kevin, and daughter, Harper, recently moved back to the family farm in Laclede County. The couple raise Hereford and Charolais cattle, selling purebred seedstock, show prospects, semen, embryos and breeding-age bulls to purebred and commercial producers.

“When we moved to Lebanon (Mo.), we knew it was going to be our forever home,” she says. “We have family ties to the area and wanted to set down roots there.” The move opened the door for the couple to start serving agriculture in their local community.

Admittedly, the pair was involved in Missouri Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers at the state and national levels, but never really invested the time and effort at the local level.

“We knew we wanted to serve and learn more,” Johansen says.  So, they became members of the Laclede County Farm Bureau. Her husband serves on the County Board. Last year, the couple were delegates for District 8 on the state young farmers and ranchers committee. This year, Johansen serves as committee chairwoman.


DELIVERING THE MESSAGE: Laclede County cattle producer Jamie Johansen is the new Missouri Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers chairwoman. She took over during the conference in February. 

Learning the ropes
“I’ve been a part of Farm Bureau for many years,” Johansen says, “from attending conferences to covering it in the media, but this is an even deeper side.”

As chairwoman, she is an advisory member on the state board. Attending meetings allows her to see the insurance side, federation side and policy side of the Farm Bureau.

Johansen will make trips to the state capital in Jefferson City, along with one to Washington, D.C. “It will be good to learn about what is going on with agriculture issues at the state and national levels,” she says. “My goal is to see how it impacts farmers and ranchers at the county level and then offer some insight to our members to take back to their local boards and communities.”

Taking action
Missouri’s young farmers are getting their boots dirty. “It is time we brag about ourselves,” Johansen says.

Missouri consistently ranks among the top-10 producing states in beef cattle, hogs, soybeans, corn, rice, cotton, hay, poultry and goats, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Not only are young farmers an important part of farming operations, but they also are investing time to educate and advocate for themselves.

Last year, there were more than 500 people attending the annual young farmers and ranchers conference. This year, organization leaders had to stop registrations at 615.

“They could be anywhere else,” Johansen says, “but they are here.” It is a sign of their commitment and passion for the industry.

With her young daughter already enjoying farm life and another child on the way, preserving the farm for the future is more personal now. Johansen says young farmers and ranchers need to carve time out of their busy schedules to get involved.

“It is important for us to use the tools organizations like Missouri Farm Bureau give us,” she says. “We need advocacy and agriculture education at the county level. It’s about getting back to local.”

About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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