Moore a finalist in national Discussion Meet competition

Nowell Moore from Woodford County has successfully competed in three rounds at AFBF's Young Farmers & Ranchers Discussion Meet in Atlanta. He will compete in the final round Monday morning. (AFBF photo)

Nowell Moore will attempt Monday to win the national Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet competition at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 2022 Annual Convention in Atlanta.

The Woodford County Young Leader will face finalists from North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin and deliberate a question about promoting good mental health among farmers and in rural communities. The winner will be announced Monday afternoon. 

Moore advanced to the semi-final round of the YF&R competition after two rounds of discussion meets on Saturday. He and 15 other contestants addressed a question Sunday asking what YF&R could do to increase awareness and develop policy around farm safety.

"The discussion today was ideal ... it reflected exactly how a board meeting should go," Moore told told FarmWeek after it was announced he would advance to the Final 4. "Our conversation flowed well and it was a good day." 

The 25-minute discussion between Moore and three other contestants from Georgia, Louisiana and Texas that followed ranged from their personal experiences with on-farm injuries and strategies to prevent them, to ideas and initiatives county and state Farm Bureaus could enact to address the issue.

Moore pointed to injuries in grain bins, accidents involving tractors and other machinery and dangers around working with livestock and fertilizers as major safety issues faced by Illinois farmers. 

He noted how Illinois Farm Bureau has partnered with county Farm Bureaus to educate the public about slow moving vehicles, the signs that identify them and how to approach them on the road. 

IFB also partnered with the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association to bring free training to farmers on handling on-farm chemicals.

Moore further said that rural emergency responders and farmers could work together to educate each other about risks on the farms and safety tips. 

"One of the best things that we can do is continually train them on new technology and innovations that we're bringing to our farms," Moore said. "Not only do we have to keep our members in tune about the risks of equipment and machinery and the way we handle livestock around the farm, but we also need to remember that the community members are there to protect us as well."

Moore suggested that gas monitors in livestock buildings and permanent harness systems in grain bins are critical investments to protect farmers. 

Another practice — which wouldn't carry a financial burden — would be a program wherein farmers visit and inspect each other's farms to identify hazards, Moore said.

Ultimately, farm safety depends on education, foresight and setting a good example, Moore said.

"As young farmers and ranchers, we can set an example for our children, set the example for the next generation, set that example for our peers and peers' children," Moore said. "And let them know we are tired of farm fatalities and accidents that occur in our business, our communities and our industry as a whole across the country." 

After the semi-final round, Moore said he feels "very polished on Farm Bureau policy and Farm Bureau resolutions."

"You look through the books, you read material, you listen to the RFD Radio Network, read the FarmWeek articles, you really try to get involved not only on the Illinois level but pay attention to what's going on in the country."

To prepare for Monday's discussion, Moore said he plans to meet with IFB staff, go through his talking points and welcomes critiques and feedback. 

"I think I'm going to go at it in a consistent manner, as I have been," Moore said. "The IFB support staff have done a phenomenal job helping prepare for this contest. We'll just see who the judges tap on the shoulder tomorrow."