Congratulations to VFBF Board Member and Pittsylvania County Farm Bureau‘s Robert Mills, who is a Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award finalist! The winner will be announced in October at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, GA!
As Farmer of the Year, that fortunate farmer will not only be $15,000 richer, he will be handed the keys to a shiny new red Massey Ferguson tractor to drive for the next year.
The hard-working state winners include a U.S. Army officer, a Harvard MBA, a city boy who decided he wanted to be a farmer after two weeks in an 8th grade vocational ag class, and an immigrant from Jamaica, with operation types ranging from timber to dairy, ranching, row crops, orchards and nurseries.
Each of the winners’ operations will be visited by a three-judge panel made up of farmer/rancher, Cary Lightsey (FL), retired Extension weed scientist, Charles Snipes (MS), and farmer, Thomas Porter, Jr. (NC). Lightsey and Porter are both previous overall winners of the prestigious FOY award.
The judges will spend the next few weeks touring and their decision on the overall winner will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.
“As a past winner of this award, I have always been intrigued by the other winners who came before…and after…me,” Lightsey said. “I’m interested in hearing their success stories, how they began farming or ranching, and how far they have come.”
The 2017 state winners of the award which recognizes excellence in agricultural production and farm management, along with leadership in farm and community organizations and family contributions in producing safe and abundant supplies of food, fiber and shelter products, include:
- Chris Langley, Alabama (beef and timber)
- Mark Morgan, Arkansas (peach, beef and turkeys)
- Mark Wilson, Florida (plant and flower nursery)
- Everett Williams, Georgia (dairy)
- Robert Michael “Mike” Bach, Kentucky (row crops and beef cattle)
- Micajah “Mike” Sturdivant III, Mississippi (row crops)
- Van Hemric, North Carolina (tobacco, broilers, row crops and hay)
- Alexander “Kemp” McLeod, South Carolina (22 peach varieties, strawberries, pumpkins, and row crops)
- Mike Robinson, Tennessee (row crop, beef cattle, timber and hay)
- Robert Mills, Jr., Virginia (tobacco, Angus-cross beef and pullet breeder chickens)
Since its inception in 1990, the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award has evolved into the most highly-esteemed agricultural honor in the Southeast and in the nation with 235 outstanding agribusiness leaders being honored for their “excellence in agriculture,” and over $1,044,000 in cash prizes being awarded to state and overall winners.
Each state winner receives $2500 and an all-expense paid trip to Expo along with various other prizes. The overall Southeastern winner receives a check for $15,000, a $500 gift certificate from the Southern States cooperative, a Columbia jacket from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply, and a smoker-grill from Hays LTI.
Swisher Sweets has proudly sponsored FOY since 1997 and has contributed some $1,080,000 in cash awards and other honors to Southeastern farmers in that time. 2017 is the 28th year for the Farmer of the Year award.