Rocky Forseth, a third-generation rancher from Helena, competed in the American Farm Bureau's national Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet earlier this year.

Montana Farm Bureau asked if I would share a few words about why young agriculturalists should participate in the Discussion Meet. First, there are the obvious reasons like the chance to win a Polaris Ranger, network with peers, and hone important skills. Second, I think the involvement in Young Farmers and Ranchers is much more important than competitions. These are the people who will lead our industry over the course of my career, and the opportunity to meet and network with those folks offers great value to me. Third, the competition opens the door forfurther involvement in Young Farmers and Ranchers and ultimately Farm Bureau.  

The Young Farmers and Ranchers committee is designed to offer young people (age 18-35) a stake in a the largest, most unified organization in all of agriculture. Young Farmers and Ranchers participants will be the leaders of the largest agriculture policy organization in our business, the Farm Bureau. 

It’s amazing how different each of the contestants thought about potential issues we were faced with in the Discussion Meet. This offers a little peace to me in terms of the direction were headed in our industry. There is certainly a lot of doom and gloom regarding the state of agriculture, but the reality is that organizations like Farm Bureau are creating a strong foundation for the future through investments in the YF&R committee and these competitions. 

The Discussion Meet will absolutely take you out of your comfort zone -- a long way out of it.  I think my respect for the contest is due to its real-world applications. I don’t know where else one can exercise skills in public speaking, debate, ag issues, extemporaneous or on-the-spot thinking and the ability to calmly direct a conversation. The Discussion Meet offers most unique blend of each of these skills. 

I enjoyed the contest, the event, and the folks involved.  Most importantly, I now know I will always be involved with Farm Bureau at my county, state, and national levels. Farm Bureau prides itself on its ability to bring new ideas from the ‘grass roots.’  While I may not be directly involved in forming political policies, I know this organization will always be sure voices like mine are heard in the process.

A special thanks to:

The Polaris Dealers of Montana

Montana Farm Bureau Staff

Ford, Case, and Stanley Tools.