Chambers County young farmer shines at Alabama expo

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Young farmers secured victories, awards, and valuable agricultural advocacy experience through contests at the Alabama Farmers Federation Farm & Land Expo, including one from Chambers County on Aug. 12 in Mobile, ALFA Farmers Federation announced in a press release.

During the conference, 22 young farmers participated in the discussion meet. The Final Four contenders are Miller Bonds of Limestone County, Caleb Beason of Franklin County, Gavin Rankins of Chambers County, and Greyson Lauderdale of Limestone County. The discussion meet emulates a committee session where participants deliberate on resolutions for agricultural challenges. The ultimate showdown will occur at the Federation’s annual gathering in December. The victor will be presented with a new four-wheeler courtesy of First South Farm Credit.

Families from Limestone and Winston counties emerged triumphant in the Outstanding Young Farm Family (OYFF) and Excellence in Agriculture competitions, respectively. Additionally, four finalists were designated for the Discussion Meet. These contests are tailored for members aged 18 to 35.

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Brady and Anna Peek, hailing from Limestone County, clinched the title of Alabama’s OYFF. The Peeks cultivate row crops across Limestone and Lauderdale counties and are parents to their son, Ridge. Since commencing their farming venture in 2010, they have enhanced yields and operational efficiency, expanded into custom farming and trucking, and diversified into cultivating flowers and sweet corn for local sales. Brady serves as the Chair of the State Soybean Committee and led the State Young Farmers Committee in 2021.

As the OYFF awardees, they have been bestowed with prizes exceeding $80,000. These include $40,000 toward a new Ford truck from Alfa Insurance, a John Deere 825i Gator sponsored by Alabama Farm Credit and Alabama Ag Credit, and a year’s lease on a John Deere tractor from John Deere, TriGreen, and SunSouth. The first and second runners-up in the OYFF competition receive prize packages from the new sponsors, Kubota and Corteva Agriscience.

Whit and Amanda Lovelady of Talladega County earned the distinction of being the first runners-up, entitling them to use a Kubota M series tractor from Kubota. The Loveladys specializes in cattle and hay farming. Mitchell and Rebecca, Henry of Lawrence County, secured the second runner-up position and will receive a prize package from Corteva Agriscience. The Henrys also focus on cattle and hay farming. The first and second runners-up additionally receive $500 each from consistent sponsors Alabama Ag Credit and Alabama Farm Credit.

The OYFF interviews transpired in March, culminating in the selection of the top finalists. In July, judges visited the three farms to determine the champion. Evaluation criteria encompassed farm growth, community engagement, and leadership roles within the Federation and American Farm Bureau Federation. The OYFF competitors predominantly derive their income from agricultural production.

Zack Brannon of Winston County emerged as the victor in the Excellence in Agriculture category and was presented with a zero-turn Grasshopper lawn mower sponsored by Corteva Agriscience. This competition allows participants to spotlight agriculture’s significance and propose solutions to pertinent agricultural issues. The first runner-up position was secured by Josh and Bailey Williams of Tallapoosa County, followed by Jake and Sheena Gay of Randolph County as the second runners-up.

All finalists received personalized Young Farmers of Alabama Solo Stoves, generously provided by the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance. The victors will represent Alabama in the American Farm Bureau Federation national competition, scheduled for January 2024 in Salt Lake City, Utah.