July 2022 FloridAgriculture eNewsletter
YF&R State Leadership Group, District 5
Being exposed to agriculture at a young age has cultivated a passion and appreciation for the industry in Clay Cooper. Cooper developed an interest in agriculture when he started showing beef heifers and steers at his county fair. Throughout the years following, he developed a bigger interest and decided he wanted to pursue a formal education in agriculture.
After graduating from the College of Central Florida with a degree in agribusiness, Cooper accepted a job as the agricultural and natural resources Extension agent with the Citrus County UF/IFAS Extension office. During his six years with UF/IFAS, Cooper gained a diverse knowledge base of agriculture. He currently serves as the general manager of Fenco Farms. Fenco Farms focuses on beef production, specifically commercial, registered Brangus and club calves. In addition to raising beef cattle, the farm produces Bahia grass seed, hay and harvest sod.
Cooper’s involvement with Farm Bureau did not begin until he was asked to sit on his county board. Prior to that, he had been a member but was never involved with the organization. Since that first ask, Cooper has served as the Citrus county Young Farmers & Ranchers committee co-chair and currently serves on the YF&R state leadership team and is on the state natural resources advisory committee.
“One of the things I enjoy most about Farm Bureau is the fellowship, networking and seeing everyone come together as a unified voice for agriculture,” said Cooper. “Our industry is constantly evolving and it is refreshing to see a group of like-minded people continue to push forward to preserve and conserve our industry.”
During his time in YF&R, Cooper has seen firsthand how Farm Bureau members in his county have given back to their community. Every holiday season, the Citrus county YF&R group hosts fundraisers in partnership with local school programs. The schools identify families that are in need and the money raised provides meals for them. Throughout the last couple of years, they have been able to provide meals for more than 400 families. Cooper is proud of the growth and success of this fundraiser.
With his involvement in agriculture, Cooper has witnessed firsthand the resiliency of farmers and ranchers and has learned how to be resilient himself.
“Our industry is ever changing and each of us must find ways to become more efficient and innovative within our industry and commodity groups,” said Cooper. “Farming and ranching is more than a job, it truly is a lifestyle and something that you have to be passionate about. It honestly does take resiliency to push through some of the hard times, but at the end of the day, I don’t know of many careers that are any more rewarding.”