Boelts farm family wins big at meeting
Even in Yuma, your chances of running into a young farmer or rancher are slim, though the odds are a bit better than the rest of Arizona. If you do run into one, grab his or her hand and cheer them on. They're farming for our future.
Congratulate them because their chosen profession is rare and important. But, also congratulate them because Arizona's young farmers and ranchers are winners, especially after American Farm Bureau's 94th annual meeting two weeks ago in Nashville. In two Young Farmers & Ranchers competitions, Arizona placed among the top. One of those placing among the top was a young couple from Yuma: John and Alicia Boelts.
They were awarded the runner-up prize in the Achievement Award competition after competing with 31 other young farm and ranch couples from across the U.S. For their win, the Boelts receive a Case IH Farmall 65A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL. On the farm, one can always use another piece of equipment.
A farmer's win often goes unnoticed.
What I want to cheer about is the young couple who packed their bags and headed to Nashville. The competition on the national level is intense. Every farm and ranch couple that competed in Nashville had already emerged victorious from their state competitions. For Alicia and John, their recognized achievements in production agriculture represent a future certainly for themselves but also for Yuma and the rest of the country in general.
In Yuma, we have young people building up agriculture operations that are unparalleled elsewhere in the country. The Boelts' win proves this. In fact, they set a benchmark.
They presented all their production practices, their business model and finances in a competition that was fierce. Once the top 10 were selected, these competing couples went through a grilling interview process. So it comes down to the best young farmers and ranchers from around the country vying for the top four awards by demonstrating knowledge of and achievement in agriculture, as well as commitment to promoting the agriculture industry.
That's exactly where Alicia and John landed.
Arizona seems to be producing quality “aggies” in general as the Boeltses were not alone in representing the state in the national Young Farmer and Rancher competitions. Arizona's Dillon Kjerstad handedly won among 38 competitors in Nashville in the YF&R Discussion Meet, which simulates a committee meeting to solve an issue or problem facing agriculture. He'll be bringing home a new Chevy pickup truck for his efforts.
For their win, John and Alicia took it all in stride and in fact, seemed a bit humbled by the experience. Even before heading to Nashville they sent out a “thank you” to everyone who helped in their effort. But like every competitor, this was about them and their family farm. It was about their business. And if you own and operate a business, you know the long, lonely hours that only you are willing to put in to make it work.
These are the kind of young farmers and ranchers your state, and Yuma in particular, is producing. These young contestants won big; Yuma wins bigger. These young people set the benchmark for a bright future for Arizona agriculture.