Escalon resident Katie Veenstra, a young Farm Bureau member from San Joaquin County and a student at Fresno State University, won the Discussion Meet contest held during the 99th California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Garden Grove.
Veenstra won the Open Discussion Meet, for young farmers and ranchers aged 18 to 35. Abigail Carlson of Fresno State, an agricultural communications major from Wilton, won the separate Collegiate Discussion Meet. Each contest evaluates participants’ ability to exchange ideas and opinions.
During the final round of the open contest, Veenstra addressed public skepticism about the value of trade agreements, noting that 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside the United States.
“As an industry that relies heavily upon foreign markets, we need to take the opportunity to negotiate new trade and tap into that new consumer base,” she said.
Daniel Bays of Stanislaus County was first runner-up in the open contest. The other finalists were Johnnie White of Napa County and Brie Witt of San Joaquin County.
Veenstra, director of marketing at sweet corn grower-processor GloriAnn Farms, will represent California at the American Farm Bureau Federation Open Discussion Meet, to be held next month at the AFBF Annual Convention in Nashville. She earned $5,000 courtesy of sponsors Farm Credit, Rabobank and Southern California Edison. First runner-up Bays received $1,000; the other two finalists each earned $500.
In the collegiate contest, Fresno State student Emma Briggs of Petaluma was first runner-up. The other finalists were Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students Sarah Dreyer of Exeter and Haley Warner of Angels Camp.
As winner of the Collegiate Discussion Meet, Carlson earned $1,250 courtesy of Farm Credit, Rabobank and Southern California Edison. First runner-up Briggs received $750 and the other finalists each received $500. Fresno State won the collegiate team competition and was awarded $250.
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 40,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.