Washtenaw County Farm Bureau members Joe and Katelyn Packard will represent Michigan on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmer & Rancher (YF&R) Committee.
Katelyn farms with her family on their centennial farm, Horning Farms, milking 400 cows and farming 800 acres — with nearly all the crops they grow being used to feed their animals.
Joe works for the Michigan Milk Producers Association as a membership representative and milking systems specialist with dairy farms across the Southeast portion of the state and helps out at the farm when he’s not wearing other hats.
For Katelyn, the new role on the AFBF committee not only fulfills a “bucket list” goal of hers, but also carries on a family legacy of involvement at the national level.
“It was actually something that my parents had done once upon a time,” Katelyn noted, saying she and Joe also saw their close friends take part in the AFBF committee over the past several years.
“I’m excited to meet other young farmers from across the country and seeing what their Young Farmer & Rancher programs look like in their own state and what positive things we can take back here to Michigan.”
On the flipside, Katelyn said she also plans to share the success of Michigan Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer program, especially the conferences offered to members which she said are “way beyond what some other states offer.”
Joe recently served a pair of two-year terms on Michigan’s Young Farmer committee, building on extensive involvement with MFB that began at the county-level.
“We’ve kind of dabbled at all levels,” said Joe, detailing involvement in the Washtenaw County Farm Bureau’s Promotion & Education committee and attending the AFBF Annual Convention multiple times over the past few years.
“I’m kind of the poster child for why ag promotion is important. I didn’t grow up on a farm, I didn’t know how cows were milked until my freshman year of college, and then I married into a dairy farm,” Joe said.
“I was that person we’re trying to reach out to from a non-ag demographic.”
Since then, he’s served as president of his county Farm Bureau and taken part in ProFILE, MFB’s premier leadership development program for promising young Farm Bureau leaders, ages 25-35, among other accomplishments.
AFBF’s YF&R Committee is made up of 16 positions representing all regions of the country. Committee members are responsible for program planning, which includes the coordination of YF&R competitive events during AFBF’s convention each January, and the Harvest for All program.
“Engaging with consumers and elected leaders to build trust while sharing agriculture’s story and advancing leadership skills are important foundations of national program committee work,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall.
“We welcome these newly appointed Farm Bureau members.”