Swisher Farmer of the Year

sunbelt ag expo farmer of the year logo

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. All nominations must go through the state coordinator. Click this link to contact the coordinator in your state for more information.

2022 State Winners

Robert E. Saunders | Virginia Farmer of the Year 2022

Robert E. Saunders | Virginia Farmer of the Year 2022

In a reflective mood Robert Saunders, of Saunders Brothers, Inc. in Piney River, Virginia, quoted Mark Twain’s famous advice, “Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.”  Growing up on a family farm as one of seven brothers was...

John M. Harrison | Tennessee Farmer of the Year 2022

John M. Harrison | Tennessee Farmer of the Year 2022

Philadelphia, Tennessee, the home of Sweetwater Valley Farm, was settled as part of a Revolutionary War land grant in the early 1800s. At the turn of the twentieth century, it became a dairy farm, with the original barn built in 1917. Seventy years later, John and...

Keith Allen | South Carolina Farmer of the Year 2022

Keith Allen | South Carolina Farmer of the Year 2022

Betty Allen Farms in Latta, South Carolina, has been in Keith Allen’s family for nearly 200 proverbial lean and fat years. Growing from a modest holding in 1837 to 3800 acres today, the farm has experienced everything from near loss at auction in 1917 to two recent...

Kevin Matthews | North Carolina Farmer of the Year 2022

Kevin Matthews | North Carolina Farmer of the Year 2022

Kevin and Cindy Matthews own and operate Matthews Family Farms of North Carolina, Inc., Precision Nutrient Management, Inc., and Deep Creek Grain, Inc. in East Bend and Yadkinville, North Carolina. Matthews is the fourth generation on his family’s farm. He said, “With...

Michael L. Wagner | Mississippi Farmer of the Year 2022

Michael L. Wagner | Mississippi Farmer of the Year 2022

Located in the rich, highly organic, blue gumbo clay soil or ‘terroir’ of the Mississippi Delta is Two Brooks Farm, owned by Michael L. Wagner. His family can count an unbroken line of ten generations of farmers back to 1742. Their prodigious, consistent labor has...

Wesley C. Parker | Kentucky Farmer of the Year 2022

Wesley C. Parker | Kentucky Farmer of the Year 2022

Wesley Parker was raised on a 150–acre dairy farm in Christian County, Kentucky, where his family grew silage and hay for their cows and a small crop of tobacco. In the late 1970s, they transitioned out of the milk business into raising hogs. Parker recalled, “My dad,...

Scotty Raines | Georgia Farmer of the Year 2022

Scotty Raines | Georgia Farmer of the Year 2022

Scotty Raines didn’t grow up on a farm, but his father kept a large garden at home. His mother, a beautician, had a beauty shop behind their house. So Scotty began his agrarian career by selling produce from the garden—tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and corn—to her...

Jerry Dakin | Florida Farmer of the Year 2022

Jerry Dakin | Florida Farmer of the Year 2022

Jerry Dakin’s family dairy farm was started by his dad, Romanus (Pete) Dakin, in Livermore, Maine in 1948. From a modest sixteen cows, the operation grew over the post-World War II years. When Pete Dakin returned from a trip down south in October 1963, he informed his...

Chris Sweat | Arkansas Farmer of the Year 2022

Chris Sweat | Arkansas Farmer of the Year 2022

Chris Sweat is a fourth generation farmer who grew up on a full-time poultry and cow/calf operation. His great grandparents started a beef and dairy farm, and his dad later established his own chicken and cattle operation. As a youngster, Chris was active in 4-H and...

Mark Byrd | Alabama Farmer of the Year 2022

Mark Byrd | Alabama Farmer of the Year 2022

Mark Byrd of Byrd Farms in Danville, Alabama, bought a used tractor and hay baler when he was only fourteen years old. Inspired by a FFA vocational ag class in high school, after graduation he planted 15 acres of rented land with soybeans while working a full-time...

Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern 2020-2021 Farmer of the Year

Robert “Bob” Martin Hall has been selected as the 2021 Swisher Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. Nestled in the hilly Piedmont region of York, South Carolina is Bush-N-Vine Farm, a fruit and vegetable-growing enterprise owned and operated by Robert “Bob” Martin Hall. His career began forty-one years ago on land that’s been in his family for a century and a half.

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Nominate for 2023 Farmer of the Year Today!

Do you know someone who would be an excellent candidate to represent your state in the Farmer of the Year (FOTY) program? Nominate them today by contacting your state coordinator.

Click here to view an archive of all previous winners by state.

2020-2021 Overall and State Winners

2019 Overall and State Winners

2018 Overall and State Winners

2017 Overall and State Winners

2016 Overall and State Winners

2015 Overall and State Winners

2014 Overall and State Winners

2013 Overall and State Winners