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Young Farm Families helping grow the future

The future of farming in Alabama looks bright if the state’s top young farm families are any indication.

Eight families – three finalists and five additional division winners – were honored in the 2023 Outstanding Young Farm Family contest during the Alabama Farmers Federation Young Farmers Conference over the weekend.

The finalists are:

  • Mitchell and Rebecca Henry, Lawrence County, Beef Division
  • Brady and Anna Peek, Limestone County, Wheat & Feed Grain Division
  • Whit and Amanda Lovelady, Talladega County, Hay & Forage Division

The other division winners are:

  • Drew and Lauren Wendland, Autauga County, Cotton Division
  • Jacob and Misty Porter, Clay County, Poultry Division
  • Ben and Jessica Johnson, DeKalb County, Soybean Division
  • Garrett and Robin Dixon, Lee County, Peanuts Division
  • Seth and Kaylee Hubert, Madison County, Fruit & Vegetables Division

The statewide contest is for farmers ages 18-35 who receive most of their income from production agriculture. It measures success based on farm growth and diversification, Farm Bureau involvement and community leadership.

The three finalists received a Solo Stove firepit from the Federation and will compete for nearly $80,000 in prizes during on-farm judging this summer. The state winner will be announced during the organization’s Farm & Land Expo in August.

All division winners will serve one-year, ex-officio terms on their respective state commodity committees, where they’ll see the policy development process firsthand and help guide research, promotion and education work.

The OYFF contest also helps grow involvement in and develops leaders for the state’s largest farm organization, said Federation Young Farmers Division Director Hunter McBrayer.

“This contest is about more than winning prizes,” McBrayer said. “As an organization, it is incredibly important to recognize the accomplishments of the next generation of farmers. It’s also about encouraging engagement and finding ways to get the next crop of leaders deeply engaged in the Federation.

“We’re proud of these finalists and division winners and applaud them for their hard work building outstanding farms across Alabama.”

Mitchell and Rebecca Henry raise stocker cattle in Moulton. They were also named Beef Division winners and will serve a one-year, ex-officio term on the Federation’s State Beef Committee.

“It means a lot to me because I had a couple of uncles that were finalists and also a cousin, so I guess it’s sort of carrying on a family legacy in a way,” said Mitchell Henry. So, we’re just looking forward to the next generation.

“We’ve got one on the way. Looking forward to that and being able to let him ride along on the tractor.”

Brady and Anna Peek grow row crops in Athens.

“We’re just largely thankful for the opportunity that we get to farm and that we’ve been able to grow our operation from what was a dream to where it is today,” said Brady Peek.

They were also named Wheat & Feed Grains Division winners and will serve a one-year, ex-officio term on the Federation’s State Wheat & Feed Grains Committee.

“When we first started dating, one of the first things Brady said to me was talking about how involved he is in the Farmers Federation and that he wanted to compete in this competition,” said Anna Peek. “So, it’s just really cool to be able to watch that grow. And we’re excited to add a baby to the mix as well.”

Whit and Amanda Lovelady grow hay and raise cattle in Alpine in Talladega County.

“We do what we love every day,” said Whit Lovelady. “Our farm is our life.”

They were also named Hay & Forage Division winners and will serve a one-year, ex-officio term on the Federation’s State Hay & Forage Committee.

“We’re so thankful that we have the opportunity to raise our children on our farm and they get to see the value of our hard work and stewardship that we’re trying to put forth to leave the next generation better, the land better than what we found it,” said Amanda Lovelady.

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