Young farmer takes on national role
By CRAIG REED
For the Capital Press
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Jason Flowers made his dad proud back in December.
That’s when Flowers, 31, was named to the American Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. His father, Bob Flowers, was an avid, long-time Farm Bureau member and was a believer in that organization’s lobbying efforts on behalf of farmers and ranchers. So he was pleased to have his son step up and take on a national role in the bureau.
With that knowledge, Bob Flowers died a month later of kidney failure.
“His dad said he was proud Jason was doing something he didn’t get to do,” said Christy Flowers, Bob’s widow and Jason’s mother. “I think Jason will do well representing the industry.”
The son partners with his mother and his brother, Larry, in hay, grain and cattle operations on over 2,000 acres in the lower Klamath Basin.
He is one of 16 members on the Farm Bureau’s national committee whose objective, according to the American Farm Bureau’s website, “is to provide leadership in building a more effective Farm Bureau to preserve our individual freedoms and expand our opportunities in agriculture.” The members, who serve two-year terms, represent all regions of the U.S. The maximum age of the members is 35.
The committee organizes and attends a week-long conference in July in Washington, D.C. In late October, the members visit the FFA’s national convention in Louisville, Ky. In January they help in the organization of the American Farm Bureau’s annual convention to be held in San Diego, Calif., and in February the committee will organize the Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference in Nashville, Tenn.
The members will also visit classrooms to speak to students about the role of agriculture in life, will work with the Harvest For All Project, a food bank program, and will research specific text books to make sure information in them about agriculture is accurate.
On an individual basis, Jason Flowers chose to focus on the Endangered Species Act and is now on a list of people available to speak or to be interviewed regarding the act.
“I want to represent young farmers and ranchers,” Flowers said. “Being involved in the Farm Bureau has given me more confidence in talking to such people as those in the Bureau of Reclamation, and even to congressional leaders, in order to lobby for things that help us out on the farm.”
Barry Bushue of Boring, Ore., has known Jason since he was a kid because of Bob Flowers’ involvement in the Farm Bureau. Bushue is the president of the Oregon Farm Bureau and vice president of the American Farm Bureau. He nominated Jason Flowers for the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee.
“His dad had a passion for the bureau and I’ve seen Jason grow up and develop that passion,” Bushue said. “Jason is an extremely capable, outspoken valuable leader for Oregon. He’ll share that enthusiasm at the national level. He’ll have the opportunity to expand his knowledge base and to see how the bureau deals with national issues.”
Jason Flowers said both he and his brother practically grew up in the cab of combines, with either his dad or mother at the controls. At age 8 Jason was on a tractor pulling a rake through hay fields and at age 10 he was operating combines and balewagons.
The 2001 Henley High School graduate attended Klamath Community College and took ag science courses before returning to the family’s business.
“I like the lifestyle because every part of the year you’re doing something different,” Flowers said. “I love working outside … I don’t think I could work inside a building. I like being my own boss. Dad and I had our disagreements, but I was grown up enough to know dad had the final decision. Then I’d just put my head down and do it.
“Dad instilled a work ethic in me,” he continued. “In business, he always said if it’s not a good deal for everybody involved, then it’s not worth doing. It should be a deal that is fair both ways.”
Flowers became a member of the Klamath County Farm Bureau at an early age and has been on its board of directors since he was 18. He is the chair for the county’s Young Farmers and Ranchers and is a six-year member of the Oregon Young Farmers and Ranchers, having been the chair of that group for two years. He’s also on the executive and budget committees for the state Farm Bureau.
“The Young Farmers and Ranchers help me develop as a person,” Flowers said. “It gave me experience in public speaking and leadership. The state level has given me that much more confidence and at the national level I hope to take it further.”
Bushue said he would not have nominated Flowers if he didn’t have confidence in the young man’s ability to represent agriculture at the national level.
“Jason is very passionate about agriculture,” Bushue said. “He really understands the importance of developing the relationships you have to have with other people. The Farm Bureau promotes the need to work together and to collaborate with each other and Jason is very much engaged in that philosophy.”
Job: Hay, grain and cattle producer
Home: Lower Klamath Basin, Klamath Falls, Ore.
Family: Mother, Christy Flowers, and brother Larry Flowers, who partner with Jason in the ag businesses
Ag Involvement: Member of American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee