The American Farm Bureau Federation recently selected an outstanding group of young farmer and rancher leaders as the organization’s 11th Partners in Advocacy Leadership class including Arizona rancher and Farm Bureau member leader Ben Menges. AFBF designed PAL to help agricultural leaders accelerate their engagement abilities and solidify their roles as advocates for agriculture.

“I’m very happy to be a part of a program that boasts many of my Farm Bureau heroes and alumni, said rancher and Farm Bureau leader Ben Menges. “I look forward to learning how to better tell our Arizona agriculture stories and utilizing the skills I develop in PAL to fight for the industry that is my livelihood.” Menges is also Graham County Farm Bureau Vice President.

A former PALs graduate and current Arizona Farm Bureau President Stefanie Smallhouse, believes this program has helped her over the years in her leadership roles with Arizona Farm Bureau, especially those that are most challenging. “Because of the Farm Bureau’s unique diversity of membership in Arizona agriculture, it has always been top-of-mind for me that we lead in contentious situations,” said Smallhouse in a recent article published by AFBF’s FBNews. “We focus on bringing all the players together to better understand the dynamics of the issue through transparent discussions and then follow through with actions on the part of all involved to solve problems in line with our policy. This has positioned us as a trusted advocate to our members and a trusted source of information and sincerity to other industry partners, regulators, policymakers and the media.”

“Advocating for agricultural issues benefits rural communities at the local, state and national levels,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Today, more than ever before, it’s critical for farmers and ranchers to step forward with confidence as they promote issues important to those in the farm-to-consumer food chain.”

Along with Menges, members of PAL Class 11 are: Heather Barnes, North Carolina; Seth Earl, Michigan; Jason Fellows, Idaho; Laura Haffner, Kansas; Rachel Harmann, Wisconsin; Eileen Jensen, New York; Russ Kohler, Utah; Megan Richner, Missouri; and Dana Stewart, Arkansas.

PAL training involves four learning modules designed to develop specific advocacy skills while exploring components of leadership and its theories and philosophies. The modules build on one another over the two years of the program and include intense, in-person, hands-on training.

PAL graduates emerge with the experience and confidence—in everything from legislative policymaking and issues management to social media and media relations—to effectively engage all critical stakeholders.


To be eligible for the PAL program, candidates must be between the ages of 30 and 45, with demonstrated leadership skills. The program is sponsored by AFBF, Farm Credit and Bayer CropScience.