Four Virginia young farmers took top honors in the American Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers competitions at the organization’s annual convention Jan. 18-20.
Sarah Rudolph of Wythe County won the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Discussion Meet; Glenn and Amanda Dye of Stafford County were runners-up in the Achievement Award competition; and Rose Jeter of Botetourt County was named a Top 10 finalist for the Excellence in Agriculture Award.
Rudolph and the Dyes were state-level award winners at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s 2019 annual meeting in December. Jeter won the VFBF Excellence in Agriculture Award at the organization’s Young Farmers Summer Expo in July 2019.
The Discussion Meet competition is designed to simulate a committee meeting in which discussion and active participation are expected from each participant. Competitors are judged on their discussion skills, understanding of important agricultural issues and ability to build consensus.
Rudolph said she “tried to bring realistic solutions to real problems that would resonate across the country” as she collaborated with the other Discussion Meet contestants. The final-round topic focused on how farmers could develop innovative new uses for agricultural products and byproducts.
Rudolph mentioned the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability and how it helps farmers with feasibility studies and grant applications for value-added products. She said farmers who apply for grant money sometimes do it incorrectly, so having an entity like VA FAIRS is a tremendous help. “There’s money sitting out there like a big softball,” she noted, “but we need the right bat to hit it.”
Rudolph is a livestock representative for pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim and works with her husband, Charlie, on their family beef operation. She also serves on the Wythe County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee.
She won a new Ford truck, courtesy of Ford, and will receive paid registration to the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference in March.
The Achievement Award honors young farmers who are successful in production agriculture and provide leadership on and off the farm. The Dyes raise corn and soybeans in Stafford and Appomattox counties and have served on the VFBF Young Farmers Committee. Additionally, Glenn Dye serves on the Stafford County Farm Bureau board of directors and has been active in leading efforts for farm equipment highway safety in Virginia.
Dye won the state-level award in December, and then his wife joined the process of applying for the national award. The couple said the application process for getting to the national level required them to document and analyze years of business activity, which Glenn Dye said was extremely helpful to their farming operation.
They will receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor, courtesy of Case IH.
The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes individuals for involvement in agriculture, leadership ability and involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.
Jeter is the sales and marketing manager for Homestead Creamery in Franklin County. For the past three years she has been building and leading a sales team to help the company grow. She also created the Homestead Creamery website and led digital marketing efforts.