By Matt de Simone
On July 27, Rose Jeter of Botetourt County earned the 2019 Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Excellence in Agriculture Award. After being runner-up in last year’s competition, Jeter stuck with the same plan, which eventually helped her take this year’s prize. Her plan was simple: Make sure that farmers prosper.
Involvement in the farming industry, community, and working with the Farm Bureau are qualifications for the Achievement Award. Another qualification is proven business leadership as Jeter has shown in her work as the sales and marketing manager for Homestead Creamery in Franklin County.
“The reason I liked participating in [the competition] is because they ask you to identify three issues that the [farming] industry needs to address in the next five years and then address one of them, if not all of them.” Jeter explained. “It’s just a good opportunity to take a step back, look at what you’ve done, and think about what goals you might have— a chance to evaluate if you’re on the right path.”
The idea to enter the competition came to Jeter following a dinner conversation about farmland preservation. The argument was made to Jeter about the fact that so many farmers are “selling out” their land to industry which takes away fertile farmland that will never be the same again. Jeter told her brother, “If we take care of farmers, the farmland preservation will take care of itself.”
From that moment, Rose Jeter’s journey began. The Farm Bureau asks for the qualified competitors to complete a written portion. Later, the finalists stand in front of their peers and the judges to speak on the matters brought into the competition.
Jeter’s approach to the competition was set in a mission statement: We can make a difference. First, she wanted to set the record straight about the agriculture world, calling everything an “issue.” Jeter believes solvable business matters aren’t “issues.” Her two other matters of focus shone a light on embracing diversity within the farming community and addressing farmers’ stress in relation to mental health.
“If your story can help someone, it’s worth it,” Jeter said. “I feel like I’ve dedicated my career to help farmers to be more profitable. Whether it’s marketing efforts or helping out Jeter Farms, at the end of the day, I hope my career choice helps farmers become more profitable.”
Next, Jeter represents Virginia on a national level. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) will announce the winner of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award at its Annual Convention in Austin, Texas January 17-22, 2020.