Utah wins big at National Agriculture Conference

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More than 5,000 agricultural leaders from across the United States met the weekend of Jan. 13–16 in Nashville, Tenn., to learn from each other and compete for major agricultural awards.

About 60 members of the Utah Farm Bureau made the trek across the country as two families from Utah competed for National awards.

Farmers and ranchers like these gathered in Nashville for the National Agricultural Conference, and a few Utah families won big.

The theme of this year’s convention, “Many voices, one vision,” invited agricultural leaders around America to come together to celebrate the large economic impact they have. Learning from each other and teaching new methods for preserving the face of farming was among the top priorities of the leaders.

The Harward family of Springville are full-time farmers and ranchers. They were nominated for the “Achievement in Agriculture” award as they competed with many farming families at the national level. While they won locally, they didn’t take home the prize at the national level.

The Iverson family, from southern Utah, won big as they took home the first runner-up title for the “Excellence in Agriculture” award.

Kelby and Kathie Iverson, of Hurricane, run The Western Legacy Farm and Ranch only part-time as Kelby Iverson earns most of his income at Diamond Ranch Academy, a residential treatment school for troubled kids in Southern Utah.

They achieved a great honor in winning second place in a category that highlights their successes in leadership ability, agricultural responsibility and their involvement with the Farm Bureau and other organizations. They were awarded with a Case IH Farmall Tractor valued at about $16,000, chainsaws and different equipment from Stihl, as well as a cash prize of $2,500.

“We were absolutely thrilled,” Kelby Iverson said. “Our state hasn’t made the top four finalist in several years so it meant a lot to be able to represent our state.”

Matt Hargreaves, the vice president of communications for the Utah Farm Bureau Federation, said, “We are the voice of agriculture in Utah, and we fight to keep agriculture strong.”

The bureau works very hard with families who take up ranching and farming as their source of income and contribution to the economy.

Some undervalue the effect farming and ranching has on all members of society. The convention in Nashville allowed farmers to get together and improve farming in today’s world as well as discuss current issues within agriculture.

A number of speakers shared their thoughts on issues such as transportation, energy and livestock outlook reports as well as more 21st-century issues like how to successfully use social media, how to advance as advocates of agriculture and how beneficial sharing stories with meaning can be to a community of farmers and ranchers.

“Successful farming and ranching in the 21st century involves managing a vast amount of knowledge and information on a day-to-day basis,” says Leland Hogan, president of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation.

The benefits of successful agricultural practices cannot be overstated. This convention allowed many the opportunity to learn from each other, which ultimately affects society in a positive way.

As for the families who represented Utah, they walked away winners and made this state proud.

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