Since its inception in 1990, the Swisher/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award has evolved into the most prestigious honor in the southeast and nation with 265 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 31 years of the award, Swisher has awarded over $1,244,000 to the state and overall winners. Each state winner receives $2,500 in cash and an expense-paid trip to the Sunbelt Ag Expo from Swisher.  A vest from the Sunbelt Ag Expo is given to each state winner and nominator. Additionally, Syngenta donates $500 to each state winner’s charity of choice and Massey Ferguson North America provides each winner with a gift package. The overall Southeastern winner receives an additional $15,000 from Swisher.  Other prizes for the overall winner include use of a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year or up to 250 hours (whichever comes first) from Massey Ferguson North America, a jacket from the Sunbelt Ag Expo, a Hays LTI Smoker/Grill, and a Henry Repeating Arms American Farmer Tribute Edition .22 rifle from Reinke Irrigation.

Agriculture has been Arkansas’ largest industry since this southern wonderland gained statehood in 1836. From the rice, soybean, corn, cotton and peanut fields in the Mississippi River Delta, to the fruit, cattle and poultry operations in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains, to the pine forests and tomato fields of the Gulf Coastal Plain, agricultural and forestry production in the Natural State impact the state’s economy to the tune of $21 billion annually. That’s nearly one-quarter of the state’s economic activity, with one of every six citizens working in an ag-related field. We rank first in rice and poultry production, third in catfish, fourth in cotton, fifth in timber production, sixth in sweet potatoes and seventh in peanuts. While the crops and livestock are important, though, it’s really the men and women who live and work on our farms who keep Arkansas agriculture strong. Come see for yourself. Experiencing Arkansas agriculture is exciting, fun and probably easier than you think. Shop at one of our 112 farmers’ markets. Visit one of our unique family farms, u-pick operations or special event venues. Shop for locally grown foods like meats and fresh produce. Dine in one of the many restaurants around the state that use Arkansas grown ingredients. Make sure to stop by the Spotlight State – Arkansas this year!

Georgia Grown has been coming to the Sunbelt Ag Expo for years to tell expo-goers about their wonderful program. For the third year, Georgia Grown products will be showcased like never before. In the Georgia Grown Marketplace housed in the Family Living Building, attendees are sure to get a taste of the many wonderful products the state has to offer. From jellies to bedsheets, this corner of the expo has so much to offer. With Georgia Grown products located in one area, expo-goers can easily get a better taste of Georgia and learn about many local producers.

Our Backyard Garden at the Expo hosts exhibitors that are eager to teach attendees growing their own food. Flint River Fresh partners with the show to bring a space for backyard gardeners and small-scale farmers to learn ways to grow food for their communities. The hope is this information will be easily passed on by those who can attend. A few things that will be taught in the demonstration garden will include vegetable gardening, garden soils, honeybees, and weed control. These discussions will be supported by hands-on learning experiences in the garden. Fruit trees, vegetables and so much more can be found in the Flint River Fresh Backyard Garden. Also, cooking demos will be happening in the garden at 1 p.m. each day!

The Sunbelt Ag Expo is proud to host professionals in the equine industry including Logan Wolfe and Trick Rider Analise Granger. The Sunbelt Ag Expo is not horsing around this year. When it comes to putting on a show, the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Equine and the Sunbelt Ag Expo know how to reign in the celebrities. Be sure to visit the demonstrations and the Sunbelt Expo Rodeo Queens and Princesses.

With a continuously evolving agriculture industry, we like to incorporate a little something for everyone, including our future farmers. On Wednesday, October 19, Country Financial will sponsor the Youth Educational Challenges for students in 6th – 12th grade. In addition, Advocacy in Action hosted by Georgia Farm Bureau, will hold its final round of competition. Farm Credit will feature an Ag Mechanics contest. Awards will be given to winners in all contests. The Expo is also hosting the Georgia FFA State tractor competition for the second time, which is something that is sure to go down in history.

The road at the Sunbelt Ag Expo is much like the yellow brick road, but ours is dirt and will take you to a variety of learning opportunities. We like to use the Expo grounds as a way for attendees to get back in the field and learn more about the latest technology in agriculture, and our hay and field demos are always a hit. Whether you are interested in hay, cotton or peanuts, let’s head out to the field and see the magic happen before our eyes! The tram ride out to the field is a fan favorite for both children and adults. You may come back a little dirty, but the pictures of your kiddos and learning opportunities are worth the trip down the dirt road!

Technology is constantly changing and so is the Sunbelt Ag Expo. Each year the Expo works hard to provide visitors with opportunities to interact with the up-and-coming agricultural technology. One such innovation will be found with RYSE Aero Technologies. RYSE is a producer of eclectic aircraft. RYSE is working to re-define the eVTOL space. RYSE Aero Technologies recently launched the RYSE Recon. The Recon is the first electric vertical takeoff and landing platform for the company. Another vendor featuring cutting edge technology is Soletrac. Their electric vehicles offer unparalleled efficiency. Don’t miss getting up close to experience the latest technology and innovation in agriculture.

Some farmers grow corn, some grow cotton, and some grow hay. We have many that are proud of the hay that they grow, so we put their hay to the test to see who truly had the best. The Southeastern Hay Contest gives farmers a chance to showcase their high-quality hay for a chance to win great prizes and recognition. Contest winners will be announced Tuesday at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. The grand prize winner will receive a new Massey Ferguson RK Series Rotary Rake DM Series Professional Disc Mower for the 2022 season and $2,000 cash prize. Category sponsors include Agri-King, America’s Alfalfa, Athens Seed Co., Corteva Agriscience, Georgia Agribusiness Council, Pennington Seed, Perennial Peanut Producers Association, R.W. Griffin Industries, Inc., and Southeast Agri Seeds.

Food is one thing that brings people together, so the Expo is proud to bring a variety of cooking demonstrations to the show year after year. This year’s show features Olivia Rader, executive chef for the Georgia Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development, Clay Oliver, owner of Oliver Farms, Stripling’s General Store, Better Half Farms and more. Visit the Georgia Peanut Commission for a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the aquaculture area for delicious catfish recipes, and the multitude of food vendors on site. With a wide variety of cooking demonstrations and food trucks, we have you covered from breakfast to dinner, and all snacks in between.

Whether you have a herd of beef cattle, or you just enjoy a nice steak dinner, the Expo offers a variety of seminars at the Beef Pavilion. The 44th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo will provide excellent opportunities for producers to build their knowledge and build their herd in return. A number of vendors will be present to answer questions regarding forages, reproduction, and nutrition. There will be hands on demonstrations and a market outlook presentation daily. Representatives from major animal health manufacturers of cattle vaccines, wormers, insecticides, identification tags, and antibiotics to answer questions and to offer suggestions for improving herd performance, no matter the size. Visit the Priefert booth next door for cattle handling demonstrations twice daily. There are so many rare opportunities in the beef barn.

Our pond management and aquaponic seminars have become especially popular over the years. It allows Expo goers the opportunity to learn more about weed management, aquaculture and managing ponds for great fishing. The best part about fishing is always the meal afterwards, so we are here to help with all aspects including management, fileting, and the recipes for cooking. Everyone at the Expo is fishing around looking for the fried catfish samples.

Each year the Expo brings a crowd of people to the dairy barn for various events but one, in particular is the Cow Milking Contest. Over the years, the Expo has had women in ag, commissioners of agriculture, Farm Bureau presidents, and even pageant queens participate. However, this year, the Expo is putting a spin on the Cow Milking Contest with state Farm Bureau representatives participating this year. The contest will feature the deans from southeastern colleges and universities. Contestants get to show off their skills at hand milking a cow. If you are looking for an “udderly” good time, be sure to stop by the dairy barn for some friendly competition.