21-year-old chairman represents third generation in farm forum
By MATTHEW WEAVER
At 21, David Dobbins is the youngest chairman in the history of the Pacific Northwest Farm Forum. But the forum goes way back in his family.
His grandfather, Glenn, has attended the farm forum every year since the late 1950s. His father, Bryan, also tries to make it each year, ever since getting out of school and joining the family farm.
David has attended the event the past seven years.
He got started through the FFA in high school, presenting the colors during the event. Because of his participation in FFA as a state officer and his assistance in finding a speaker for the FFA program, David was asked to be a forum board member last year.
This year, he became chairman of the farm forum committee.
"He's an amazing kid," said Spokane Ag Expo manager Myrna O'Leary. "He just kind of worked his way up."
His father and grandfather couldn't be more pleased.
"He learned a lot in his years as state FFA officer, how to deal with people and yet be strong in his values and get his point across if he really needed to," Bryan said. "He's a good listener and a dedicated worker as well. He'll get the job done."
"I'll agree with all that," Glenn said.
The Dobbinses have long tried to make sure they're out in front of farming techniques, he said, which is a big part of the reason they're always at the event.
Glenn has farmed the site of his Hill View Farms near Cheney, Wash., since 1953. Bryan joined him as a partner in 1973, and plans are in place for David to come aboard in the years ahead.
Their farm has doubled in size in the past five years, with the intention that David would come on board.
"I was working the average person's work week and being a full-time student," David recalled. "It's a lot easier not going to school now."
They primarily grow soft white wheat on about 4,500 acres, the majority of which is leased.
"We work hard at being good stewards of the people's land we farm for," Bryan said. "At last count, we have 36 landlords. It's a challenge to keep every one of them content."
They grow winter and spring wheat, some pulse crops and barley, oats for feed and hay to feed their beef cattle.
The Dobbinses would like to see the farm expand further in the next few years. With David's help, they could probably handle another 1,000 acres, Bryan said.
"I'm a young farmer, and I look forward to continuing on the farm through more generations," David said.
David said he runs ideas past his father and grandfather, both with the farm forum and running the farm.
"As a family, you've got to communicate," he said. "That helps out with a lot of things, just knowing who's going which direction that day."
Planning the transition to David is something that's pretty well set up at this point, Bryan said.
"We had to go through some of those seminars to get some of the best ideas," he said. "We should have done some of the things 10 years before we did, but you never know what the next step's going to be."