If 2020 has proven anything, it is to expect the unexpected. Every day presented unique challenges, which were answered with innovation and perseverance by industry producers – the very qualities that make the Farmer of the Year exceptional. As we look to what 2021 might hold, we again see producers from across the Southeast rising to meet demand with grit and determination.

Chip Blalock, executive director of the Sunbelt Ag Expo, stated, “We are so hopeful that the COVID-19 vaccine will begin to make a difference and get us back to a somewhat normal state of affairs. When this happens in the coming months, we look forward to taking the judging tour and meeting the 2020 Farmers of the Year and then welcoming them and their families to the Sunbelt Ag Expo on October 19-21, 2021.”

Farmers have always been known for their perseverance, but now society relies on them more than ever. They provide the population with food, clothing, and shelter. Companies require the raw materials created by the agriculture industry to manufacture products. Agriculturalists produce goods to supply in trade agreements with other countries. The need for agriculture as a whole is unlikely to change anytime soon, but a year unlike any other has made all of these sectors realize their need for agriculture even more evident. These are some of the reasons the Sunbelt Ag Expo, alongside Swisher Sweets, wants to celebrate those who have not only overcome the challenges presented but made the most of them.

Every year the Swisher Sweets Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award program recognizes the innovators and problem solvers who have continually strived to make their communities and the agricultural industry better. Unique obstacles have presented unique opportunities, which we look forward to seeing how our 2021 state winners overcome. We continue to see environmental stewardship being a top priority for farmers who want to give back to the land and their community. Now more than ever, there has been a need for strong leadership within local communities during these trying times, and farmers across the nation continue to step up to the challenge. Though many in-person events have been canceled, that has not stopped the adaptable, tech-savvy producers of the Southeast from finding ways to further the industry and exchange ideas.

Additionally, we cannot predict what’s to come for 2021, but we do know we can rely upon the producers that are key to the success of our communities, industry, and nation. Farmers play a vital role in cultivating a healthy environment and supplying the raw material necessary for the everyday goods we enjoy. Their admirable spirit of perseverance and determination is what the Swisher Sweets Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award program looks to recognize. No matter what 2021 holds, we will still celebrate those farmers who embody the qualities of the Farmer of the Year.