Young Farmers to hold statewide expo

Published 5:40 am Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Participants take a tour during the 5th Annual Young Farmers Summer Expo last year. SUBMITTED

FRANKLIN—Close to 200 are expected to attend the 6th Annual Young Farmers Summer Expo in Western Tidewater on Friday, July 29, and Saturday, July 30.

The event also will involve visits from U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and state Del. Bill Barlow, D-Smithfield, who will speak during a Saturday lunch and awards program at Paul D. Camp Community College.

Sponsored by Virginia Farm Bureau, this will be the first time that the expo has been held in the southeast district, said Chris Simms, VFB Young Farmers committee representative for Southampton County.

The expo started in Bristol. Since its inception, the expo has been held in Northern Neck, Blacksburg, Hanover County and the Shenandoah Valley.

“It’s a great opportunity for young farmers from across the state to come together and network and learn about agriculture in other areas of the state,” Simms said. “It’s also open to anyone interested in the promotion, production, leadership of agriculture. It doesn’t have to be somebody that’s farming full-time for their career. It can be anybody that’s interested in agriculture and promoting agriculture.”

Attendees typically consist of individuals from age 18 to 35.

On Friday, participants will travel to Virginia Beach to tour the Stihl Power Tools Plant. From there they will tour Amadas Peanut Combine & Coach, Frank Holland Cotton Farm, Suffolk Cotton Gin, and the Tidewater Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Suffolk.

On Saturday, the expo will be centered in Franklin at PDCCC, where there will be workshops and awards presented.

The awards include the state finalists for the Achievement Award, Excellence In Agriculture, Outstanding Young Agriculturalist and the Young Farm Employee of the Year.

Applicants for awards submit information focusing on their farm operation, what they have done in their farm operations, how they’ve grown and their goals, Simms said.

“It’s basically looking to reward and recognize young farmers for the work that they’re doing in their operations and growing agriculture,” he said.

Simms and his wife, Jennie, received the Excellence in Agriculture award last year and went on the win at the national level.

“That application really focuses on their background and the impact that they have on agriculture,” Simms said. “If they have a small farm operation as well as what they do related to farming in their career.”

Applications for the awards were submitted prior to the expo. During the expo, the top five applicants will be interviewed during closed sessions, and the winners are announced during lunch on Saturday.

Saturday will close with a picnic dinner at the Airfield 4-H Center in Wakefield.

Expo attendees are asked to register for the event. To do register, e-mail, or call Ron Saacke at 804-514-4202.