By Amelia Kent
My 2018 has started out with a whirlwind of a month! In the beginning of January, my husband and I had the honor of representing the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award Contest at the American Farm Bureau Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Most recently, I attended the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix, Arizona to participate in the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and Checkoff meetings.
Leading up to the AFBF convention we worked and reworked our application and upon the deadline felt good about our submission. At that point, we were confident we didn’t leave anything on the table, and hoped to make the Top 10 Finalists. A day after arriving to the convention, we learned we did in fact make the Top 10 and interviewed the following afternoon. Walking out of our interview, we had a similar confidence that we didn’t leave anything out, we both were calm and collected during our conversation with the judges and hoped to possibly make the Top 4. While the judges made their decision later that day, the winners were not announced until the next day during closing session. In that time frame, I also sat on two panel discussions. In the meantime, we both felt the same confidence – if we receive an award that’s great; but if we don’t, we don’t feel like we left anything out or should’ve done something differently.
The closing session finally got underway in our fourth day at the convention. Only in those last few minutes did my nerves start. Shortly into the program, it was time for the Achievement Award Top 10 to take the stage. The announcements started with the National 4th Place, 3rd, and so on. When the National Winners were revealed as our names were called, we could barely believe what we heard! Truthfully, I think we’re both still in some degree of disbelief. Never in a million years would we have ever envisioned winning!
But how did we get here? We are a typical farming couple, just like many of our neighbors and peers across the country. The first step is involvement. I know, we’re all busy and it’s so hard to get away from the farm because the work never ends. Taking that first step may indeed be the most difficult, but there are benefits. The contest application is a prime example – it takes time and may not be easy to complete, but part of the inherent benefit is more deeply examining your management and goals on your farm.
Another example regarding the advantage of involvement comes to mind while I attended the Cattle Industry Convention a few weeks ago. Prior to leaving, a friend asked me about a specific policy issue housed within the GIPSA rules. I’d only briefly heard of it, but replied I’d keep my ears open. Sure enough, that exact topic came up in a meeting, and I was able to follow the policy discussion of the national producer group at this convention. Although that convention has concluded, our conversations and efforts on this issue continue.
Whether the benefit is profoundly analyzing your own farm management, the generous prizes associated with contests, or following policy issues that directly affect your livelihood, these benefits are worth that first leap – that first, biggest step to take time away from your farm to show up. Have you heard the saying, “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu?” While we’re busy on our farms, the world keeps spinning and new policies are made every day. And fewer and fewer people understand what we do as the population steadily grows and the farming population steadily decreases. I share these thoughts with you because you can do the same. These things can happen to you, but only if you get involved.
Amelia Kent and her husband, Russell, raise beef cattle and hay in East Feliciana Parish. Amelia is a past chair of Louisiana’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, is currently a member of the - Partners in Advocacy Leadership program with AFBF, and serves on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Find them on Facebook at Kent Farms; or on Instagram and Twitter @kentfarms_la.