SANDY, Utah. December 11, 2017 – Samantha Smith of Cache County won the 2017 Utah Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet. The competition was concluded at the recent Utah Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Layton and is considered a top honor for young farmers and ranchers in Utah.

The Discussion Meet contest is designed to simulate a committee meeting where discussion and active participation are expected from each participant. More than a simple debate, this competition is evaluated on an exchange of ideas and information on a pre-determined agriculture topic. The judges look for the contestant that offers constructive criticism, cooperation, and communication while analyzing agricultural problems and developing solutions.

Participants build basic discussion skills, develop an understanding of important agricultural issues and explore how groups can pool knowledge to reach consensus and solve problems. Successful participants are productive thinkers, rather than emotional persuaders, and assist the group in creating ways to implement the solutions discussed and highlight Farm Bureau’s involvement in those steps.

The competitors spoke on topics including how can Farm Bureau help first-generation farmers and ranchers get started in agriculture; how can agriculture overcome public skepticism of foreign trade to negotiate new trade agreements; how can Farm Bureau work to ensure that the public’s positive perception of the family farm is not lost; how can farmers and ranchers maintain their buying power with the continued trend of input supplier and provider consolidations; and how Farm Bureau can help members with increasing legal and regulatory obstacles so they can focus on farming and ranching.

Samantha and her husband Caleb make their home in Lewiston, where they are partners with the Smith family dairy. Previously, Samantha served as a State FFA Officer in 2014-15 and is completing her degree in Agriculture Business from Utah State University. Smith is active in her community and serves an ambassador for agriculture.

Smith competed with more than 16 other contestants from around the state in the competition. For winning the competition, she received a 2017 Polaris ATV courtesy of IFA, and an expense-paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting in Nashville.

Sam will compete at the American Farm Bureau Discussion Meet against Discussion Meet winners from across the nation during its annual convention in January. National winners of the Discussion Meet will have their choice of a 2018 Ford truck and paid registration to the AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference in Reno, Nevada on Feb.16-19, 2018. The Discussion Meet truck is provided courtesy of Farm Bureau Financial Services.

The runners-up (second place) of the YF&R Discussion Meet will each receive a Case IH Farmall 50A tractor, courtesy of Case IH. Other finalists will receive prizes courtesy of Case IH and Stanley Black & Decker.