Young Farmers Go Behind Scenes
Winter Expo Gets Back To Basics
Posted: March 5, 2013
G.W. “Bill’’ Mason, director of feed manufacturing and purchasing at the Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative mill in Broadway, talks with young farmers during a recent tour. (Photos by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
Dustin Richardson, 18, of Carroll County and Emily Hill, 18, of Frederick County examine truck scales where feed trucks receive their loads at the Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative in Broadway.
After many years of wondering, Reid finally satisfied her curiosity recently thanks to a statewide conference for other young farmers who share her interest.
“I wouldn’t just pull in here,” said Reid, whose fascination with agriculture was nurtured through her parents’ business, Glenhaven Greenhouses in Broadway. “It’s cool to go behind the scenes in places I pass every day.”
Reid was one of about 160 people who took part in activities around Rockingham County for the Virginia Farm Bureau’s 2013 Young Farmers Winter Expo, themed “Getting Back to Basics: Production Agriculture.”
“We’re trying to see more of the [larger]-scale production side,” said Dana Fisher, a Shenandoah County agriculture teacher and a member of the expo committee.
Young Farmers is a Farm Bureau organization for 18- to 35-year-olds interested in supporting ag through production, education, promotion, advocacy and leadership, according to the group’s website.
The event, held the last weekend in February, was one of the organization’s twice-annual expos — one in summer, the other in winter — that rotate locations each year. Given this year’s topic, the central Valley proved the perfect locale, Fisher said.
“We love being in the Valley,” he said, giving a nod to Shenandoah, Rockingham, Page and Augusta counties as some of the state’s top ag producers. “It’s hard to get too far away from the base of it.”
Throughout the weekend, participants heard from guest speakers, including Matt Lohr, Virginia’s commissioner of agriculture and consumer services and a longtime Broadway farmer. They also attended workshops and traveled to locations in Augusta and Rockingham counties to observe potato, dairy, poultry and beef operations.
“It gives these young farmers a chance to know agriculture in Virginia better,” Fisher said. “The conference includes a lot of folks giving them the tools they need to be successful.”
Fisher said a main goal of the expo is to keep support alive for agriculture, one of Virginia’s most important economic engines.
According to VDACS, ag is by far the state’s largest industry, with an impact of more than $55 billion annually.
“With that high of an economic impact, we need to make sure the industry has the support that it needs,” Fisher said.
The other main goal of the expo is to help the young farmers network, something Reid said she’s had great success with through the conferences.
“The networking on these trips is priceless,” she said. “I get to meet people from all over the state [and] I have been able to use my resources for school projects or to get questions answered.”
Contact Emily Sharrer at 574-6286 or firstname.lastname@example.org