Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation members typically gather in Jackson in December for an annual convention to celebrate the organization’s accomplishments for the year and conduct business for the future. This year, due to COVID-19, members were forced to conduct business differently.

One representative from each county attended the annual business meeting using strict socially distanced practices. The rest of MFBF’s annual business was conducted virtually.

“This year has presented many challenges for our members,” MFBF President Mike McCormick says. “I am proud of how, despite the unknowns, our farmers and ranchers continued to work to feed the world.”

McCormick’s pre-recorded annual address kicked off the socially distanced annual business meeting. In it, he announced MFBF’s theme for 2021, Critical & Essential. The theme honors the critical role Mississippi farmers and ranchers play in keeping the world running every day, not just during a pandemic.

In order to show continued support and appreciation of MFBF members, the organization still recognized several families with well-deserved awards.

“We were happy to still be able to celebrate some of our members this year, but we could not have done that without the support of our generous sponsors, including those who give prizes toward our YF&R contests,” McCormick says.

Southern AgCredit, Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company, Kubota, John Deere, Gray-Daniels Ford and Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance sponsor prizes, like a Ford truck, hours of use on John Deere and Kubota tractors, ATVs, and cash prizes for the winners of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award, Excellence in Agriculture Award and Discussion Meet contest.

Each YF&R sponsor has their own reason for giving, but the most common goal is to invest in the future of agriculture.

“We’re very tied to the agriculture industry, and we know these young farmers and ranchers are the future of that business,” Greg Collums with John Deere says. “We want to have a strong relationship with them going forward because we think it’s valuable for the future of the agriculture industry.”

“As younger farmers advance their businesses through technology, Kubota wants to help provide resources for them to help them be more profitable and more efficient at what they do as they continue to build their heritage for their family,” Kelly Wilder with Kubota says.

“Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance has a long history of supporting the YF&R program,” Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company CEO Jerry Keating says. “We believe it’s a vital program for the success of Farm Bureau. We are proud to support the next generation of leadership in our organization.”

In addition to investing in the future, these sponsors take pride in working with the largest general farm organization in Mississippi and building trust for years to come. Elliott Fancher, Greenwood Branch Manager for Southern AgCredit, knows the importance of the YF&R program because he participated in it and now sits on the Leflore County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

“Agriculture represents a major portion of our state’s income and that’s the reason we try to work with Farm Bureau as much as we can,” Fancher says. “I think we’ve both got a common interest of reaching out and doing all that we can to help these young farmers.”

“We take care of our customers because they take care of us,” says India Munn, Commercial Accounts Manager for Gray-Daniels Ford. “Our relationship with Farm Bureau has always been strong, and we look forward to continuing that in the future.”

The Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company is also looking forward to continuing to collaborate with the YF&R program in the future.

“On behalf of our more than 177,000 member families, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation would like to say thank you to our sponsors for their generosity and dedication to the YF&R program,” McCormick says.