After finishing as national runner-up in the Young Farmers & Ranchers Discussion Meet at the 2018 American Farm Bureau Federation convention in Nashville, Jenny Freeborn arrived Thursday at Ag West Supply in Rickreall, Ore., to claim her prize.
Freeborn, who chairs the Oregon Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee, received a Farmall 50A tractor donated by Case IH for her impressive showing at the event. Matt Mollard, territory sales manager for Case IH, was also on hand Thursday to give Freeborn the key.
“This is literally something I’ve been working on since I was 15 years old,” Freeborn said of competing in the national Discussion Meet. “It really is a dream come true for me. The fact that this actually happened is incredible.”
The Young Farmers & Ranchers Discussion Meet is a competitive event that simulates a committee meeting, with members swapping information and ideas on a predetermined topic. The list of topics for Freeborn included:
• Round 1 — With a growing demand for U.S. farm products abroad, how can agriculture overcome public skepticism of foreign trade to negotiate new trade agreements and open new world markets?
• Round 2 — How can Farm Bureau help members with increasing legal and regulatory obstacles so they can focus on farming and ranching?
• Sweet 16 — How can farmers and ranchers maintain their buying power with the continued trend of input supplier and provider consolidations?
• Final Four — Farmers are a shrinking percentage of the population. How can Farm Bureau help first-generation farmers and ranchers get started in agriculture?
The night before the Final Four, Freeborn said she couldn’t eat or sleep. Her sister, Kathy Hadley, who also made the Sweet 16 in 2016, stayed with her to provide support.
Above all else, Freeborn said she was thrilled to shine a spotlight on the good work being done by the Oregon Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee.
“That was the best part of it for me, knowing that I am bringing attention and notoriety to our state,” she said.
Freeborn, who lives on the family farm in Rickreall, was appointed chairwoman of the committee in December 2017. The group is specifically for Farm Bureau members between the ages of 16 and 35.
Martha Smith of Colorado won the discussion meet. Jared Knock of South Dakota placed third, and fourth place went to Matt Jakubik of Michigan.