Story By: Neil Melancon
NEW ORLEANS — Falling commodity prices, the state’s budget shortfall and federal regulations are all challenges Louisiana agriculture faces, as well as topics that will be explored at this year’s 94th annual convention of the Louisiana Farm Bureau, held at the New Orleans Marriott on Canal St. June 23-26, 2016.
This year’s convention also will have conferences for the agricultural commodities grown in Louisiana and general sessions to set organizational policy for the coming year. In addition, there will be numerous awards and youth activities including Young Farmer and Rancher contests, a talent competition and the crowning of the 2016 Louisiana Farm Bureau Queen.
“We’ve seen not only a drop in farm prices, but a big hole in the state’s budget that affects our research and development in agriculture,” said Ronnie Anderson, president of the Louisiana Farm Bureau. “Although the budget hole and the drop in farm prices aren’t directly related, they do both adversely affect Louisiana’s farmers. It’s something we’re going to hear about at convention and try to find ways to overcome these challenges.”
Access to this year’s convention will be unprecedented, thanks to live streaming each night’s events through social media, as well as a mobile-friendly website, lfbfconvention.org, that lists all of the convention activities by day.
In addition, Jim Engster will broadcast his radio show from this year’s convention again, on both Thursday and Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. Expected guests include Congressional Representatives Ralph Abraham, Charles Boustany and John Fleming, as well as LFBF President Ronnie Anderson and Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain.
A general session will be held on Friday and all Farm Bureau members are invited to hear the reports on the state of agriculture in Louisiana. A voting delegates’ session will wrap up the convention on Sunday, June 26 at 9:30 a.m.
Young farmers from across the state will compete in the YF&R Achievement Award contest, the Outstanding Young Farm Woman contest and the Excellence in Agriculture Award contest. This year’s YF&R Achievement Award finalists are Russell and Amelia Kent of East Feliciana Parish, Derek and Kacie Luckett of East Baton Rouge Parish and Ryand and Danielle Yerby of Grant Parish. The Achievement Award is presented to the young farm or ranch couple whose operation typifies diversity and sound farming practices. A variety of prizes will be presented to the winner, including a $40,000 voucher for a Chevrolet or GMC vehicle, compliments of Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company.
The Discussion Meet is designed to engage young farmers in timely topics of discussion that impact the state’s farming operations. The winner will be selected from participants at the meet Thursday during the convention. The YF&R Excellence in Agriculture Award winner honors those who have supporting roles in agriculture, or those who may be part-time farmers. Louisiana’s Outstanding Young Farm Woman is presented to women producers who promote leadership in the continuation of the family farm here in Louisiana. The Talk Meet is aimed at younger audiences, ages 15-19 who answer a variety of agriculturally-related questions that deal with current events.
All awards for these contests will be announced Thursday, June 23 at an awards ceremony beginning at 5:30 p.m. The final award that night will be the President’s Trophy, awarded to the parish that best qualified in Farm Bureau-related activities during the previous year.
The Farm Bureau Talent Contest is open to youth ages 6 to 19 and the winners in each parish contest compete in New Orleans each year. The contest is divided into Junior and Senior divisions and generally includes musical and dance performances. This year’s contest will be held at 5:30 p.m., Friday, June 24.
The crowning of the Farm Bureau Queen occurs on the final night of convention, Saturday, June 25 beginning at 5:30 p.m. Parishes select contestants who will compete to represent the Louisiana Farm Bureau at various ag-related events year-round, such as state fairs, festivals and trade shows across the state. The crowning of the new Louisiana Farm Bureau queen will be available on YouTube following the event.
The Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization representing the farmers and ranchers in Louisiana at the parish, state and national levels. More information on Farm Bureau and this year’s convention can be found at http://lfbfconvention.org.