Openings remain for farm bureau discussion meet contest |

Openings remain for farm bureau discussion meet contest

The South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB) is encouraging young farmers and ranchers between the ages of 18 and 35 to consider participating in the Discussion Meet contest, held during its annual meeting on Nov. 20-21 in Pierre. The winner of the Discussion Meet at the state level wins a cash prize and a trip to Orlando in January for the national contest at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting.

“The prizes are great, but they’re not the only reason to give the Discussion Meet a try,” said Renae Gehbart, Farm Bureau member from Meadow, S.D. and past Discussion Meet winner from South Dakota. “The Discussion Meet really sharpens your communication skills and helps you build composure and strength under pressure. You have to know about each of the topics, but you also have to be able to work together with varying opinions, ask questions and build consensus. These are skills you’ll use and appreciate more than you realize.”

Farm Bureau’s Discussion Meet is not a prepared speech and it is not a debate. Instead, it is set in a panel discussion format where participants thoroughly assess the topic at hand, exchange ideas and offer constructive solutions to the agricultural question chosen for their round. Judges are looking for communication skills, a cooperative attitude, and the ability to analyze problems and develop solutions. The five potential questions this year are:

How should Farm Bureau protect and encourage producers’ ability to use new technology? How can Farm Bureau work with government and the public to ensure public acceptance while encouraging innovation?

Should we draft policy to protect livestock producers from false accusations regarding animal welfare? What could it look like?

How do we balance agriculture’s water needs with maintaining vibrant communities? How do historical water rights influence this discussion?

How do we get the public to support right-to-farm laws? Should these laws be determined on the state or the federal level?

How can we influence state and local policy that more effectively balances the social and economic interests of farmers and ranchers versus burdensome federal regulation?

The question is chosen at random prior to each round, so participants need to be prepared for any of the five. The same five questions are used for both the state and the national Discussion Meets.

“Farm Bureau has a vibrant Young Farmers and Ranchers program, and the Discussion Meet is one of the great opportunities for this age group to grow their leadership and communication skills,” stated Krystil Smit, South Dakota Farm Bureau’s executive director. “Succeeding in agriculture today means being able to communicate effectively and tackle complex problems. I’d encourage young people in agriculture to consider participating.”

To participate, you must be between the ages of 18 to 35 and a Farm Bureau member. More information about the 2015 Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Discussion Meet, and this year’s SDFB annual meeting, can be found at For details about the contest itself and how to sign up by the Nov. 16 deadline, contact SDFB’s Lowell Mesman (605-281-1319,

–South Dakota Farm Bureau


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