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INDIANAPOLIS -- LaPorte County farmer Jake Smoker is the winner of Indiana Farm Bureau's Young Farmer Discussion Meet.

The discussion meet, which was held Nov. 16 as part of the INFB state convention, is one of three major awards presented to Farm Bureau members age 35 or younger. In it, contestants participate in a group discussion that simulates a committee meeting.

Smoker and the other three finalists discussed how to balance agriculture's water needs with maintaining vibrant communities and how historical water rights influence this discussion.

He will now advance to the national Young Farmer & Rancher Discussion Meet, which will be held during the American Farm Bureau annual meeting, Jan. 8-13 in Orlando, Florida.

Smoker and his wife, Jill, live in LaPorte County and farm with his family, raising corn, soybeans, seed corn and cucumbers and also "finishing" (that is, raising to market weight) around 2,500 dairy steers. While he grew up on a farm, he only recently returned there after working for a while in Chicago as area manager for Aldi.

As winner of the Indiana discussion meet, Smoker wins a $4,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance and expenses paid to national convention in Orlando, Fla.

The three runners up were Jeff Demerly, White County; Andy Bailey, Tippecanoe County; and Britt Reese, Clinton County. The runners up each win a $1,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance.

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