Sunbelt Ag Expo Announces 2023 Farmer of the Year
By Pheobe Beard
The Sunbelt Ag Expo is proud to name Steve Cobb as the 2023 Farmer of the Year. Cobb is a native of Lake City, Arkansas, and has been farming for over 50 years. Justin Ladd, Senior Financial Office of Farm Credit Mid-America, nominated Cobb for the Arkansas Farmer of the Year title. Ladd says the Cobb family are well-known and respected industry leaders.
He is in a partnership enterprise, Cobb Farms, that has a multitude of agricultural commodities in Craighead County, Arkansas. The partnerships are between Steve Cobb and Family, Cane Island Farms, and Cane Island Produce. With over 4,500 acres, the farm grows produce, row crops, and raises show pigs. Cobb and his family have a leading show pig operation that produces 1,000+ show pigs per year. Cane Island Farms oversees and manages its corn, cotton, and peanut fields. Cane Island Produce grows vegetables and specializes in greenhouse tomatoes available all year.
Cobb was presented a $15,000 prize for winning Farmer of the Year and was graciously welcomed by the previous Farmer of the Year recipients. The state winners hail from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Steve Cobb said, “The scale of farm operations has changed but the roots are the same; they’re eternal. What we do is essential for all life as we know it. I’m grateful and blessed to be a part of that.” He is a proud, long-time member of the Farm Bureau and a member of his local and state FFA Alumni Association.
The Expo was thrilled to have Governor Brian Kemp and Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper join Cobb in celebration of being named the 2023 Farmer of the Year. Governor Kemp and Commissioner Harper spoke on the importance of the agricultural industry within the Southeast and how hopeful they are that the industry will continue to grow for years to come.
Sweet Grown Alabama: A Spotlight on Alabama Agriculture
By Emma Richwine
This year the Spotlight State at the Sunbelt Ag Expo is Alabama. It has been over a decade since they were last featured, and they are excited to show how the ag industry has changed over the years in their state. The building features agriculture from all corners of the state including peanuts, pecans, poultry, catfish, corn, grains, and soybeans, cotton, agritourism, and timber. The state offers such a diverse landscape, that there is a wide array of agriculture in Alabama. Inside, the building is divided up in the different sections of Alabama. Each section has Alabama natives showcasing the state in the booths and giving away samples of various agricultural products such as honey and pecans. Most of the areas also have an interactive element such as a game or trivia that visitors can participate in while visiting each stop. There are also two photo booth areas. The one inside has a neon sign that says “Sweet Grown Alabama” which is the state’s nonprofit for Alabama farmers and the photo area outside is an antique red truck decorated with some fall foliage and the Sweet Grown Alabama logo. When visiting the Spotlight State building, there is something for everyone in Alabama!
Tuesday’s Cow Milking Contest: Duvall 2x Champion
By Bethany Champion
The dairy barn hosted quite an entertaining event today, with the first of three milking contests during the 2023 Sunbelt Ag Expo. Today’s contest included Georgia Agricultural Commissioner Tyler Harper, Alabama Agricultural Commissioner Rick Pate, and Florida Agricultural Leader Chris Denmark. In order to make the milking competition fair, the competitors went through three rounds. After each round, all three participants rotated to a different cow. Once each cow was milked by each, everyone gathered around the judging table to see who filled up their individual graduated cylinder the most. The contestant who had collected the most milk was crowned the winner. It was a friendly competition, but the results were clear. Chris Denmark from Florida won, and got to compete in a championship round with the American Farm Bureau President, Zippy Duvall. The Grand Champion round consisted of two cows, with each contestant milking each cow for one minute each. The milk was collected in the graduated cylinder again, and the contestant with the most milk was named the Grand Champion. Duvall got to hold his champion title for one more year, as he won this year’s cow milking championship again! The crowd was eager and excited for this family-friendly event. Be sure to stop by the dairy pavilion on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon for more milking action.
Up, Up, and Away!
By Layla Wallace
The Sunbelt Ag Expo is well-known for showcasing the newest advances in agricultural technology to both consumers and fellow producers on a wide scale. These advances are constantly evolving to make agricultural practices more precise and efficient, with the goal of improving the industry overall. More specifically, drones have been a significant part of this initiative in recent years. Bestway Ag and UGA showed off their newest Agras T-40 drone in the drone demonstration fields. Guests were shuttled from the inside of the Expo to the demonstration areas and dropped off to watch the drone in action, first-hand. During the demonstration, the Bestway Ag staff watched the drone and showed visitors their mapping systems on its controls. The drone was flown above the fields for all visitors to see, followed out its mapping points, sprayed water to simulate a chemical application mission, and landed safely so they were able to take a look at the drone up close. Here at the Sunbelt Ag Expo, there’s new agricultural technology around for everyone to experience. As a first-time intern for Sunbelt, this has been one of the best experiences of the day. New technology is exciting, and it is worth giving a look at this year’s Expo!
Antique Tractors draw the attention of all on the first day of the Expo
By Peyton Coursey
Expo goers were able to capture sights from the past during the Antique Tractor Parade this afternoon. This is also the first year for the Antique Tractor Pull at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. Antique Allis Chalmers, John Deere, Farmall, and several other brands were showcased as this parade went throughout the grounds. All of these machines had to be made before 1965.
Guests of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds marveled at the delicate, yet sturdy pieces of machinery that have lasted decades. The opportunity for all to see not only how tractors have changed throughout the years but also how if you take care of something it will last. One antique tractor that caught the eye of many during the parade was the 1953 John Deere 40 Tricycle which featured a large American flag blowing behind it. One little boy wearing a John Deere shirt and hat waved at this tractor and called out “Dad, that’s a John Deere with a ‘Merican flag!” This was a heartwarming sight to see for those all around, to see that even the younger generation was able to recognize a 70-year-old tractor and our country’s flag on the back of it.
Although most of these tractors in the parade didn’t compete in the Antique Tractor Pull, it is not an event you want to miss. The pull happens each day at 10 a.m., and the parade event happens at 2 p.m. each day beginning at GPC and runs in a loop throughout the Expo. So don’t fret, there will be views of this parade all over. If you don’t see them coming, you will definitely hear them coming your way!
Exciting Field Demos throughout Expo
By Shelby Wentz
Field demonstrations took place during the first day of the 2023 Sunbelt Ag Expo. Field demonstrations show agriculture equipment with the newest strategies, techniques, and technology. Different tractors demonstrating tilling, peanut harvesting, hay tedding, cutting, raking, and bailing were all shown throughout the day. Families, farmers, friends, and students were shuttled by trams to the fields. While in the fields, there were multiple opportunities to have conversations with professionals in the industry about any tractor being demonstrated in the field. Along with discussions, you are able to watch individuals of the tractor companies drive large pieces of farming equipment, referencing demonstrations of farming tractors. Besides tractors, there were also drones being demonstrated in the fields. If you are interested in any particular equipment in the agriculture industry, the Sunbelt Ag Expo offers it all. Stop by any day of this week to check it all out!