BYRON, Ill. — One question that Ryan Reeverts might be asked is how he prepared for the Illinois Farm Bureau Discussion Meet, which he won at the IFB’s annual meeting in Chicago earlier this month.
A better question is — how did he find the time?
“I definitely try to stay busy,” Reeverts said.
Reeverts farms with his father and uncle. They raise corn and soybeans and alfalfa and utilize alternative cover crops, such as cereal rye, oats and cowpeas and sorghum and sudangrass for forage.
Reeverts and his father have a 40-cow herd of American Aberdeen cattle.
“I bought some feeder calves from a neighbor six or seven years ago and that’s where we got our start in the cattle operation,” Reeverts said.
They have three American Aberdeen bulls that they rent to other producers, as well as selling genetics from those bulls.
The calf crop is sold as feeder calves or as breeding stock to other American Aberdeen producers across the country.
In 2019, Reeverts Farms in Byron received a retail meat license that enabled the family to sell packaged beef from their farm, in addition to the halves, quarters and wholes that they had been selling.
Reeverts, who graduated from Byron High School and was a member of the Byron FFA, served as Illinois FFA state reporter in 2017-2018. He graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 2021.
In 2018, the family decided to reestablish an apple orchard that the farm previously had.
“We started planting some trees, and in the last five years, we’ve gone up to 60 dwarf apple trees,” Reeverts said.
They sell apples at farmers markets and pick by order from the farm.
Reeverts works full-time at Peabudy’s North, an outdoor and farm equipment dealership, in Pecatonica.
In addition to his farm work and his off-farm job, Reeverts is involved in the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders. He serves as the chairman of the Ogle County Farm Bureau Young Leaders group.
“We’ve got a good group of around 15 individuals at the county level. We do programming within Ogle County, like donating to food banks and doing some programs at the Ogle County Fair. We donated grain rescue equipment to fire departments in Ogle County this year,” he said.
“We have a good group of active individuals who want to do things at the county level and advocate for the industry that way.”
In spite of a schedule that looks like it barely allows for sleep — “sleep is a challenge some days,” Reeverts said — he makes it a priority to consume news and information from a variety of sources.
“I keep up with the news on RFD and DTN. I use a lot of different sources to stay up to date on information that’s relevant to our farm operation, as well as to the industry in general,” he said.
Reeverts said this year’s topics, which range from climate change to autonomous equipment to supply chain disruptions to retaining young farmers, presented challenges in gathering and distilling information relevant to the topics and then finding middle ground.
“Being able to look at all the perspectives and take the information that’s provided by your fellow competitors and then put that toward one common solution can be difficult, especially when everybody comes to the table with different talking points,” Reeverts said.
The Discussion Meet scenario is structured around a committee meeting, where each participant has to offer discussion and where the participants are expected to exchange ideas.
Reeverts said his customer service experience, with farmers from his job at Peabudy’s North, and from the farm’s beef and apple businesses, helped, as well.
“The opportunities I’ve had off the farm, working at Peabudy’s and seeing what producers are dealing with on a daily basis, trying to get them back up and running and trying to find a solution to the problem at hand definitely helped me working through the Discussion Meet,” he said.
Reeverts competed in the Discussion Meet as a member of Collegiate Farm Bureau at SIU. He said he was surprised when he was announced as the winner.
“This is only my second year in Discussion Meet as a Young Leader. I was definitely shocked and I feel very fortunate to win it this year,” he said.
“We had a lot of younger competitors this year, closer to my age. I think that is definitely optimistic for the future, to see those competitors involved in the conversations about issues our industry is facing.”