By Chip Blalock

Thirty-four years of recognizing excellence in Agriculture is what the Sunbelt Ag Expo SE Farmer of the Year program is all about. Since 1990, we have had the honor of recognizing 296 salt-of-the-earth farm families and distributing $1,320,000 of prize money. The original eight states included Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. In 2006, Kentucky joined the program and in 2007 Arkansas came into the fold. Current participating states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Over the years we have travelled over 123,000 miles on the judging tour. Flights have been held up in all kinds of conditions (high winds, heavy rain, thunderstorms, etc.), eaten every kind of sandwich known to man on the airplane going from the morning to afternoon stops on the tour, and found some of the best restaurants in the southeast for supper. These restaurants include the 501 in Jonesboro Arkansas, All-Steak in Cullman Alabama, Peter’s Steakhouse in Jensen Beach Florida, City Pharmacy in Covington Georgia, the KEG in Murray Kentucky, Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville Mississippi, the Hilltop in Monroe, North Carolina, Creekside Kitchen and Brew House in Charleston SC, DEMOS in Lebanon Tennessee and the 616 in Danville Virginia. It has been quite a journey and we look forward to meeting our new state winners on the judging tour in August. One thing is for sure, at the conclusion of the judging tour each year, we gain a renewed sense of pride that the family farm is alive and well across the southeast.

2024 Sunbelt Ag Expo Farmer of the Year Program Blog 4