YF&R members meet 'For the Love of Ag'
Posted on Jul 24, 2023 at 20:00 PM
By Jay Stone, Georgia Farm Bureau
In multiple ways, attendees at the 2023 Young Farmers & Ranchers Summer Leadership Conference learned what to look for, whether it is in weather patterns, credit scores or myths about meat.
As much as anything, they learned to look for each other. The annual event, held July 12-15 on Jekyll Island, drew approximately 300 young farmers and ranchers from around the state with the theme, “For the Love of Ag.”
GFB Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee Chairman Colt Hart said that in addition to offering fellowship and bonding with peers, the conference shows attendees how to network and GFB’s strength as an advocacy organization.
“Farmers see maybe what you can do for me or what I can do for you, and see what we [Farm Bureau] are, so when they go to the legislative arena, they can see how strong we might be,” Hart said.
Nutrien Ag Solutions Weather Wizard Eric Snodgrass gave an entertaining and informative presentation on factors that affect weather. TikTok sensations Cody and Erika Archie from Bar 7 Ranch in Texas shared some of the experiences and approaches that have made their videos popular. Attendees also met Lucky, GFB’s spokesdog, and learned how she is helping the organization reach new members.
Breakout educational sessions included presentations on understanding credit scores, debunking meat myths and tips on how to run YF&R programs at the county level.
The conference included crowning the state winners of the YF&R competitive events and the Picture Agriculture in Georgia Photo Contest winner Caitlin Crispell of Tattnall County. Seth Scruggs of Bibb County won the adult category of the Georgia Foundation for Agriculture’s rain-shortened mini golf fundraiser. The Carithers Family of Walton County claimed victory in the kids’ category.
As an on-site service project, attendees formed an assembly line and put together 13,000 prepackaged meals to be distributed in the Brunswick community.
The spin on weather
Snodgrass, a former professor at the University of Illinois, started with the idea of rotating weather elements.
Viewed from above the North Pole, the Northern Hemisphere spins counterclockwise. Snodgrass said that when wind patterns also spin counterclockwise, the result is rain and cooler temperatures. If the wind patterns are clockwise, the result is warmer, dryer weather. These factors work in conjunction with water temperatures in the world’s oceans to generate major weather events. Warmer water generates energy that fuels tropical cyclones. Snodgrass noted that this year coastal water temperatures could generate tropical storms or hurricanes that are “homegrown,” that is, they don’t travel all the way across the Atlantic from Africa. At the time of the conference, the Atlantic Ocean along the Southeast coast was in the 90s (degrees Fahrenheit), while farther south between Florida and Cuba, the water temperatures were near 100 degrees.
Snodgrass also pointed out the importance of the Bermuda High, a high-pressure area that provides heat for weather systems. It is often located over Bermuda but moves around the Atlantic.
“If [the] Bermuda High is not nearby to pump in heat, you’re going to get cold,” Snodgrass said.
He noted that forecasts more than two or three days out cannot be taken as givens. The weather in the later days of a 10-day forecast are typically accurate about half the time and beyond 10 days are usually a simple reflection of historical averages.
Snodgrass also offered four lessons on drought: First, farmers should stay current on their knowledge of the moisture in their soils; second, the U.S. Drought Monitor is designed to measure cumulative long-term effects and shouldn’t be viewed as a predictor; third, farmers should pay attention to forecasters who discuss momentum of weather elements. Generally, the desire is for weather systems to keep moving; and fourth, pay attention to the prevailing subtropical high pressure systems – the Bermuda High and its counterpart, the Pacific High.
Snodgrass recommended two alternative weather apps, WhatTheForecast and the Weather Underground. To subscribe to Snodgrass’ Weather Intelligence Report, visit https://info.nutrien.com/snodgrass_weather. For a comprehensive collection of weather data resources, visit www.ag-wx.com.
Telling agriculture’s story
Cody and Erika Archie own and operate Bar 7 Ranch in Gainesville, Texas, just north of Fort Hood. They have attracted more than 932,000 followers on their TikTok channel. Their videos document their life in agriculture and the working dynamics of a family-run ranch operation.
Recently they covered their trip to the Southeast, which included the YF&R Conference, hunting pythons in Florida and why Cody’s headrest in his pickup is backward.
“We got started about two years ago. Cody quoted Denzel Washington and that video got 15,000 views,” Erika said. “That’s kind of what got us out there. Since then, we’ve gotten into YouTube. What changed for us, we posted funny content. Before that it was educational, but that was the first time we kind of put our personalities on there.”
The couple had been active on other social media platforms, posting content on Facebook and Instagram.
“What we've picked up from a lot of those is you just have to start posting,” Cody said, noting that it’s important to recognize that each platform has its own unique audience. “So that's kind of really all it boiled down to is we just started putting stuff out there. And then the other thing is to put it on multiple avenues.”
Credit where credit is due
Farm Bureau Mortgage National Manager Christy Braford led a discussion on understanding credit scores.
Braford noted that about 70% of Americans have a credit card by age 25, making it the most common first experience with credit for young adults. One in 10 Americans are “credit invisible,” meaning they have no established credit history, she said.
“We'll have older folks that [are] sometimes in their sixties and they've never established credit,” Braford said. “Not having debt is a positive thing until you need to borrow money.”
It takes at least six months to establish credit, Braford said.
A person’s credit score is a three-digit number – ranging from 300 to 850 – that is calculated based on one’s credit history. It is used by lenders to gauge how likely a person is to repay a debt.
Braford discussed factors that affect a person’s credit score.
First, an individual’s credit score will not drop if they marry someone who has a lower score, though it may limit the couple’s ability to obtain a loan on a joint basis.
Credit scores can impact a person’s ability to get a loan. A poor credit rating often means the loan will cost more to repay. Braford said the costs associated with loans and insurance for mortgages and auto loans can be 25% higher for a person with poor credit than for one with excellent credit.
Braford pointed out that credit scores are dynamic and individuals can control their score. She shared ways a person can improve their credit score: Pay bills on time, pay down revolving debt (for example, credit cards), close accounts wisely and be careful when opening new accounts.
“So, your credit, your credit payment history is the most important factor affecting your credit score,” Braford said. “A late payment could stay on your credit report, credit history for quite a while. So, we want to make sure that we've got the history going.”
One factor in calculating a person’s credit score is percentage of that person’s use of available credit. When closing an account, particularly revolving credit accounts, the percentage of use goes up and their credit score can decrease as a result.
Braford also shared information about the Farm Bureau Bank Financial Solutions Program (FSP). FSP is credit analysis and solution program offered for free to Farm Bureau members looking to improve their credit. For more information, contact a Farm Bureau Bank mortgage broker by calling 877-388-5354. A collection of financial resources, including various calculators, loan and credit card rates, and disaster relief information can be found at www.farmbureau.mortgage.