Todd Lackman, an agricultural education teacher from Miles City, represented Montana in the national Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion Meet held during the 105th American Farm Bureau Convention in Salt Lake City. The Discussion Meet has competitors addressing pre-determined questions on current issues and developing goals and solutions.

Lackman advanced to the Sweet Sixteen round in the tough competition. Discussions covered agricultural finance, sustainability, and engaging diverse agricultural ideas and communities.

Lackman qualified for the national competition after winning the Montana Farm Bureau Discussion Meet in November.

The 26-year-old said he prepared for the national event by visiting with agricultural producers, which included his family who grows sugar beets, seed barley for MillerCoors, alfalfa seed, corn and wheat.

“During Thanksgiving I sat down with my family, showed them the five Discussion Meet questions and heard their ideas on the topics,” said Lackman, who grew up on the family farm in Hysham. “That was the springboard for what I wanted to talk about.”

Lackman appreciated the camaraderie with the other competitors who were interested in each other’s state agriculture and sharing backgrounds.  During the Sweet Sixteen round which focused on young farmers and ranchers obtaining capital, Lackman engaged with competitors who hailed from Utah, Colorado and Virginia.

“I really enjoyed that round because we were bouncing ideas off each other and I feel we developed viable solutions and potential ways to solve challenges we see as young people involved in agriculture,” Lackman said.

He had previously competed in the Collegiate and Montana Discussion Meets, but acknowledged that the national competition was inspiring.

“It’s been remarkable to compete in Farm Bureau at this level,” Lackman said. “Having the opportunity to attend the American Farm Bureau Convention has been educational, impressive and enjoyable.”

Thirty-five Montana Farm Bureau members are attending the AFBF Convention which runs through January 24.