A Little Slice of History

This morning, my husband and I took time out of our jam-packed schedule to stop and have a few minutes of our morning archived for future generations.

What am I talking about?

We were given the opportunity to have a 40 minute interview recorded through Story Corps, and it will be archived in the Library of Congress. Talk about an amazing opportunity.

The only issue we had? Apparently if you take a cell phone and cover it in foam, my normally talkative husband clams up. That’s right, Mr. Social seemed to have an issue with keeping a conversation going with me. But never fear, the wonderful woman assisting us jumped in at the right moments, helping him open up and tell even more wonderful stories.

The best part of all was knowing that this information will be recorded for all of posterity, allowing our children, our grandchildren and even their grandchildren the opportunity to hear our thoughts, memories and plans for the future. It’s not every day that you get an opportunity like that, and we have Farm Bureau to thank for it.

If you ever have an opportunity to tell your story, be sure to do it. Not just your plans for the future, but where you’ve been, how you made it to where you are—including the trials and tribulations.

Amazing moments in amazing places—it’s the Farm Bureau way.

wagfarms is Val Wagner, a North Dakota farmer and rancher. The Wag’n Tales blog features stories from this mom of four who loves farm life and invites readers to come along for the ride. Follow Val on Twitter (@wagfarms) and find her on Facebook. She is a member of the North Dakota Farm Bureau’s Promotion & Education Committee.

Transportation and Agriculture

This session discussed the transportation issues facing farmers today and the difficulty in interpreting the existing regulations and how they apply to farmers. Funding for infrastructure is also a major issue in most states and this problem isn’t going away.

The expert panel for the session was made up of people who address these issues for agriculture daily. The panel included Samuel Kieffer from Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Garrett Hawkins from Missouri Farm Bureau, Michael Wright from South Carolina Farm Bureau and Kevin Rund from Illinois Farm Bureau.

The panel discussed how infrastructure associated with agriculture is disadvantaged today because earmarks in funding for rural infrastructure has disappeared. This means we need to find a different way to fund infrastructure for agriculture.

Another important issue facing agriculture transportation is barge transportation on waterways. The current drought has made barge traffic very difficult and almost nonexistent in certain areas. Due to low water levels this past year, barges have reduced their load capacity just to maintain barge traffic. One barge can transport as much as 1,050 semi tractor-trailers and 216 rail cars. A barge is more efficient in the number of miles it can travel per gallon of diesel compared to trucks and rail.

This session offered an in depth look into what states have been facing regarding transportation. There was a focus on the importance of barge traffic to agriculture, in addition to the importance of our port system in the United States. If our ports are not kept up to date we will lose out to more modern ports like Cuba.

The panel emphasized we need certainty in funding for long term planning for our aging infrastructure system. Farmers need to engage in these conversations and talk about the important role transportation plays in their farming operations.

Chris Chinn is a Farm Bureau member in Missouri, serves on the Missouri Farm Bureau board of directors and will represent her state at the delegate session in Nashville. She is a hog producer, 5th-generation family farmer and former chair of the national AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. Find her on Facebook and Twitter (@ChrisChinn).

Discuss, Discuss, Discuss

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One of the main focal points of the Annual Meeting for the Young Farmers & Ranchers program is the Discussion Meet. It kind of looks like a debate, and kind of sounds like a debate, but is most definitely not a debate. Four competitors at a time tackle a question that highlights currents challenges or topics in agriculture, and work together to find common ground and consensus toward solving problems. In essence, it should operate similar to a board meeting where everyone is working toward how the group is going to address the problem.

This competition is a wonderful way to develop leadership potential in the YF&R program. The research required to speak knowledgeably about the questions at hand leave the competitors conversant in a wide range of ag topics, and getting up in front of an audience to talk about all of these issues provides plenty of public speaking experience. And the winner gets a shiny new Chevrolet Silverado, which isn’t a shabby reward for all that work.