Kreg Vollmer of Sterling, Colorado took third place at the Young Farmers and Ranchers National Discussion Meet competition hosted at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2023 Annual Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Vollmer faced off against agriculture advocates from nearly every state at the national competition in San Juan last month. After four rounds, he was awarded third place. The event simulates a boardroom discussion on issues pertinent to American agriculture. Knowledge of the industry and the ability to think critically and recommend realistic solutions were key to his success. 

“I had the opportunity to watch Kreg as a collegiate compete at the national competition my first year on the Colorado Farm Bureau staff. Five years later, Kreg earned the chance to represent Colorado in the Young Farmers and Ranchers division,” said Kacie Sallee, associate director of county and member development at CFB. “ Making it to the Final Four is an incredible achievement, and Kreg earned it.  Farm Bureau’s strength comes from our members’ talents in communicating and their knowledge of issues. This competition recognizes the strongest leaders in the organization. Kreg’s confidence really shined through.”

Colorado Farm Bureau is incredibly proud of Kreg for his accomplishments. His preparation was above and beyond that of any competitor the state has ever had and he did an incredible job representing the organization and CFB members across the state. He knew each issue inside and out and was prepared for the discussion to go in any direction. In the different rounds, it often felt like Kreg was a chairman and orchestrating the group’s conversation.

“Through tenacious effort, paired with individual talent, Kreg has shown how effective Colorado Farm Bureau leaders can be on a national level,” said Kole Kelley, Colorado Young Farmers and Ranchers’ vice chair. “It is inspiring to see the effort and dedication Kreg devoted to becoming this effective. I hope we can strive to do the same, every time we celebrate his accomplishment.”

Competitors are asked to debate a pre-selected question that cover industry-related issues. This year’s questions were: 

  1. How can Farm Bureau effectively support and equip young farmers and ranchers to successfully manage economic and infrastructure challenges to ensure healthy and sustainable farms and ranches across the country?
  2. Due to current economic demands, many farmers and ranchers spend a lot of time outside the “fence rows” on off-farm jobs. How can Farm Bureau become more accessible and welcoming to members who are working in related fields and juggling responsibilities on and off the farm? 
  3. Climate has become a major topic among business leaders, policymakers and consumers. As an industry that depends on the weather, what role do we as farmers and ranchers play in shaping climate initiatives to benefit society overall as well as our own farms and ranches? 
  4. Advancements in autonomous equipment and drone technology offer solutions to challenges farmers and ranchers have faced for years. How can Farm Bureau improve access to, and help farmers and ranchers deploy, these emerging technologies on their operations? 
  5. Many external influences are causing supply chain disruption for agricultural goods. How can Farm Bureau reduce the impact of external influences through policy development and programming? 

“I was hoping I could bring home the win, but it is still an incredible and special accomplishment to make it this far. Over the past 50 years of the competition, only a select few have made it this far, and I am very proud of that accomplishment,” says Kreg Vollmer. “At this competition, I had the unique opportunity to show all that I’ve become as an advocate, an individual, and a professional and take every lesson and skill that I’ve learned to propose real solutions to today’s toughest issues. I am thankful for the investment Farm Bureau has made in my development. I wouldn’t have made it this far if not for the programming and opportunities CFB has provided me. This was my way of showing those who mentored and supported me how appreciative I am of their time and efforts and thank everyone for all they have done to build me into who I am. ” 

As the third-place winner, Vollmer was awarded $2,500 from American Ag, a solo stove, gun safe and $1,700 in equipment from Black and Decker. He qualified for the national competition after winning the Colorado Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet at the 2022 Colorado Farm Bureau Annual Meeting last November. 

The Young Farmers and Ranchers program includes men and women active in the agriculture industry that are between the ages of 18 and 35. The program’s goals are to help young farm bureau members learn more about agriculture, network with other agriculture professionals and develop their professional skills to reach their full potential as leaders in agriculture and Farm Bureau.