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.


Swisher International

Massey Ferguson
Columbia PFGIvey's

2013 State Winners: Farmer of the Year
  • James Cooley, SC South Carolina Fruit Grower James Cooley Named Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year for 2013 - (Moultrie, Ga.)—South Carolina peach and strawberry grower James Cooley, who built a beautiful farm that has become an agricultural tourism destination, has been selected as the overall winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award for 2013. Cooley was named as the overall winner during the Willie B. Withers Luncheon held [...]
  • Scott Travis, KY SCOTT TRAVIS NAMED 2013 KENTUCKY FARMER OF THE YEAR - Being flexible has paid off for Scott Travis of Cox’s Creek, Ky. His farming operation has evolved over the years, from an early emphasis on livestock to a current focus on crops—burley tobacco, corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, straw and pumpkins. As a result of his success as a diversified crop farmer, Travis has been selected [...]
  • Lin Jones, VA LIN JONES NAMED 2013 VIRGINIA FARMER OF THE YEAR - Beef producer and broiler grower Berkley Linwood “Lin” Jones of New Canton, Va., is a community leader. His work in improving beef genetics, saving money on buying mineral feed supplements and in cooperative value-added marketing of beef calves has gained nationwide attention while adding countless dollars to the value of cattle sold from his farm [...]
  • Wilbur Earp, NC WILBUR EARP NAMED 2013 NORTH CAROLINA FARMER OF THE YEAR - A farmer for more than 60 years, Wilbur Earp of Winnabow, N.C., pioneered in raising hogs indoors. He has developed an extensive beef, pork and row crop farm. He also used estate planning experts to ensure his farm will be a viable business for years to come. As a result of his success as a [...]
  • Phillip DeSalvo, AR PHILLIP DeSALVO NAMED 2013 ARKANSAS FARMER OF THE YEAR - Phillip DeSalvo of Center Ridge, Ark., embraced a ground-floor opportunity to develop a new breed of cattle called Ultrablack. DeSalvo has persevered despite adversities such as drought, a devastating tornado and losing a contract to grow broiler chickens. His Big D Ranch is now recognized as a top source for both purebred and commercial beef [...]
  • Will Harris, GA WILL HARRIS NAMED 2013 GEORGIA FARMER OF THE YEAR - Fourth generation farmer Will Harris of Bluffton, Ga., developed his White Oak Pastures into the largest organic farm in Georgia. He added job-generating meat processing to the farm and has become a provider of high-quality natural meat products to upscale grocery stores and restaurants. As a result of his success as an organic farm owner [...]
  • MS '13 FOY pic ABBOTT MYERS NAMED 2013 MISSISSIPPI FARMER OF THE YEAR - Abbott Myers of Dundee, Miss., went to college to become an aeronautical engineer. Those plans changed one year when his father required eye surgery and called Abbott home to manage the family farm. He so enjoyed the decision-making of farming, he changed his major to ag engineering, and the next year started growing soybeans on [...]
  • Richard Jameson, TN RICHARD JAMESON NAMED 2013 TENNESSEE FARMER OF THE YEAR - Richard Jameson of Brownsville, Tenn., has overcome a diagnosis of clinical depression, and with support of his family and the medical community, he is now able to manage the stresses that come with farming. He has also become a topnotch soil conservationist, a successful row crop producer and a community leader. As a result of [...]
  • James Cooley, SC JAMES COOLEY NAMED 2013 SOUTH CAROLINA FARMER OF THE YEAR - James E. Cooley of Chesnee, S.C., has developed a showplace farm growing peaches, strawberries and blackberries. Each year, Cooley, his wife, daughters and dedicated employees welcome thousands of visitors to the farm that has become an agricultural tourism destination. As a result, Cooley has been selected as South Carolina state winner of the 2013 Swisher [...]
  • John Long, FL JOHN SCOTT LONG NAMED 2013 FLORIDA FARMER OF THE YEAR - A native of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, John Scott Long answered a call to manage a cucumber farm in South Florida. He later bought this land near Palm City, Fla., to raise vegetables. His Agri-Gators farming operation has since become a successful producer of sweet corn and potatoes consumed throughout the eastern U.S. As a result [...]