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Neil and Melissa Durrant: YF&R Opens Doors for Participants

Ben Sand

Neil and Melissa Durrant and family.

photo credit: Dana Peterson Photography

One of the great joys of being a part of AFBF’s YF&R Committee is the opportunity to meet other young farmers and ranchers who have gone above and beyond in the industry that we love.

Two of those young farmers are Neil and Melissa Durrant from Idaho. They served on the AFBF YF&R Committee from 2019-2021. Neil is the fourth generation on his family’s farm which is comprised of a combined total of 1,400 acres of irrigated corn, sugar beets, wheat, alfalfa and dry beans. They also own and operate a grain elevator facility, along with a feed mill where they sell livestock and poultry feed. Melissa is currently serving her first term as a representative in the Idaho House of Representatives and will graduate with a master’s degree in speech language pathology in May 2025. They have been married for 18 years and have four children (two boys and two girls).

Melissa credits her time spent on the YF&R Committee for giving her the ability to take on other opportunities in her career.

“When I joined the committee, I had no idea how beneficial and instrumental it would be for my life after the committee,” she said. “Despite the committee functioning online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the skills I learned from participating helped me complete an online master's program. In addition, being on the committee created opportunities to promote and advocate for agriculture. The importance of fighting for agriculture is what led me to run for Idaho’s House of Representatives. I know without Farm Bureau and being on the committee, I would never have done it.”

Neil also used his time on the committee to open new doors.

“Since being off the committee, I was elected to serve as our county Farm Bureau president and serve on various committees within our state Farm Bureau,” he said. “I also serve on the US Dry Bean Council as treasurer. The committee helped me gain experience in leadership and helped me realize that I could do much more and be successful at it.”

With everything the Durrants do daily, they are still strong advocates for taking the time to be involved in Farm Bureau.

“If you want to continue to be successful, being involved is key,” said Neil. “We are all busy and have many things on our plates, whether that’s family life, our farming operations, school, life, etc. Finding time to be involved allows us to meet others with similar interests/issues that we are facing. Involvement also builds relationships that can help through tough times and good times.”

Farming and ranching is not only our job but it’s our way of life, and the Durrant’s story certainly embodies that. I am thankful for their passion and dedication to our industry. They are a great example of what our young farmers and ranchers accomplish daily. As I reflect upon the decision I made to join the YF&R program, I too am enamored by all the opportunities it has provided. Each one of us has a unique story to tell about our farms and ranches and Farm Bureau gives us the platform to tell it. Like the Durrants, if you have the passion to advocate for the agriculture industry, I urge you to find ways to be involved in Farm Bureau, you never know where it might take you.

Ben Sand and his wife, Haily, serve on AFBF’s YF&R Committee. They grow corn, beans, rye, sweet corn and pumpkins on their farm in Wisconsin with two little girls at their side every step of the way.