Farmer of the Year

Farmer of the YearThis will be the 25th Anniversary of Swisher International and the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition to have the honor to salute the agricultural community and industry with the Swisher Sweets / Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award. In the previous 24 years, many of agriculture’s top business leaders, innovators, environmentalists, pioneers, family men, problem solvers and leaders have received national recognition.  Swisher International and Sunbelt Ag Expo continue to provide recognition for a select group of true heroes – American Farmers and make the public more aware of the many ways agriculture touches their lives every day.
Longtime University of Georgia Extension agronomist John Woodruff has been selected as the newest judge for the prestigious Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards.  Woodruff, from Tifton, Ga., will join John McKissick, University of Georgia agricultural economist from Athens, Ga., and farmer Brian Kirksey of Amity, Ark., in visiting the farms of the state winners from the Southeast. McKissick is serving as the senior judge this year and Kirksey was the overall winner of the award in 2008.  Their judging trip will take place during the week of Aug. 12-16. During the week, they will visit the farms of the ten state winners. This year’s state winners represent the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The overall winner will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.  “We are pleased and honored to welcome John Woodruff to our distinguished team of judges, and we look forward to having his experience and insight for the next three years,” says Chip Blalock, director of the Sunbelt Expo farm show. The Farmer of the Year judges typically serve for three years before rotating off the judging team.  “I have been following the Farmer of the Year awards since it began,” says Woodruff. “I have admired the selection process and the farmers who have been named state and overall winners. It is an honor for me to now be a part of this process, and I am really looking forward to meeting the ten state winners and seeing these operations that represent the wide variety of farming in the Southeast.”
Since its inception in 1990, the Swisher Sweets / Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award has evolved into the most prestigious honor in the southeast and nation with 206 outstanding agribusiness leaders being honored for their “excellence in agriculture.” Ten states participate in the program: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. In the previous 24 years of the award, over $924,000 has been 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 $15,000 and various other prizes from the sponsors.

Sponsors

Swisher International

Massey Ferguson
Columbia PFGIvey'sPhytoGen


2014 State Winners: Farmer of the Year
  • Andy Gill Arkansas ANDY GILL NAMED 2014 ARKANSAS FARMER OF THE YEAR - Corn and soybeans make high yields for Andy Gill of McGehee, Ark. He farms productive flat bottomlands in the Arkansas Delta, close to where the Arkansas River flows into the Mississippi River. Using furrow irrigation, Gill’s yields are impressive. Last year, he produced 220 bushels of corn per acre from 1,972 acres and 82 bushels [...]
  • Danny Murphy Mississippi DANNY MURPHY NAMED 2014 MISSISSIPPI FARMER OF THE YEAR - A national soybean leader, Danny Murphy of Canton, Miss., is a successful row crop farmer who gives back to the industry that has treated him so well. He has never been too busy to get involved in commodity and community organizations. A farmer for 41 years, Murphy farms 1,600 acres, including 980 acres of rented [...]
  • Dennis Carlton Florida C. DENNIS CARLTON NAMED 2014 FLORIDA FARMER OF THE YEAR - Cattle rancher, citrus grower and real estate investor C. Dennis Carlton has made a big impact in the city of Tampa and nearby parts of Florida. A rancher for 40 years, his farming interests include more than 35,000 acres, of which 30,082 acres are rented and some 5,368 acres are owned. As a result of [...]
  • Frank Howey North Carolina FRANK HOWEY JR. NAMED 2014 NORTH CAROLINA FARMER OF THE YEAR - As urban growth near Charlotte has expanded, the farm of Frank Howey Jr., has grown at an equal rate. In 32 years of farming, Howey from Monroe, N.C., has become one of the largest farmers in the area and state. He specializes in row crops, wheat, soybeans and corn, and has a small cattle herd. [...]
  • John Keller Tennessee JOHN KELLER NAMED 2014 TENNESSEE FARMER OF THE YEAR - A farmer for 50 years, John Keller of Maryville, Tenn., has long been close to the land he farms in the shade of the scenic Great Smoky Mountains. He farms about 788 acres, including 226 acres of rented land and 562 acres of family-owned land. His crops include corn, soybeans, wheat, rye, hay and pasture. [...]
  • Philip Grimes Georgia PHILIP GRIMES NAMED 2014 GEORGIA FARMER OF THE YEAR - A meticulous, high-yield crop farmer, Philip Grimes of Tifton, Ga., is admired as one of the best farmers in South Georgia. He has been recognized on the state level for producing high peanut yields for more than 20 consecutive years. A conservation farmer, he uses cover crops and has installed grassed waterways, terraces, and ponds [...]
  • Phillip Hunter Alabama PHILLIP HUNTER NAMED 2014 ALABAMA FARMER OF THE YEAR - Drive through Nashville or Birmingham and see the upscale offices and residential complexes. Chances are, the trees landscaping these properties came from the farm of Phillip Hunter. He grew up as a city boy and now lives in Birmingham. He raises shade, evergreen and ornamental trees at the Hunter Trees, LLC nursery in Talladega County. [...]
  • Ray Allan Mackey Kentucky RAY ALLAN MACKEY NAMED 2014 KENTUCKY FARMER OF THE YEAR - Diversified livestock and crop farming at Meadow View Farms have been profitable over many years for Ray Allan Mackey, a 28-year farming veteran from Elizabethtown, Ky. Mackey farms 4,535 acres, of which 1,350 acres are rented and 3,185 acres are owned. He is known for growing corn, soybeans, burley tobacco, hogs and beef cattle. As [...]
  • Tom Nixon Virginia ROBERT T. “TOM” NIXON II NAMED 2014 VIRGINIA FARMER OF THE YEAR - Beef cattle, turkeys and row crops are major enterprises at scenic Glenmary Farm overlooking the Rapidan River near Rapidan, Va. Robert T. “Tom” Nixon II, who owns this farm, is focused on flexibility in growing and marketing cattle and crops. For instance, he harvests corn as a cash crop or silage, depending on prices for [...]
  • Walter Dantzler South Carolina WALTER DANTZLER NAMED 2014 SOUTH CAROLINA FARMER OF THE YEAR - Walter Dantzler of Santee, S.C., is a Vietnam War veteran who sincerely appreciates the opportunity to contribute to the heritage of his multigenerational farm. A farmer for 45 years, Dantzler farms 4,487 acres. This includes 2,626 acres of rented land and 1,861 acres of owned land. He farms 3,975 acres of cultivated land and has [...]