Ask a farmer why they went into the business and you’re unlikely to hear any say it was to be named Farmer of the Year.
But an honor like that doesn’t hurt.
Every year, the Sunbelt Ag Expo has a panel of experts pouring through dozens of nominations and spending hours on farms to select nine state winners and an overall champ, announced at the expo each October in Moultrie, GA.
Virginia farmer Robert Mills grew his first crop of vegetables at age 13. Now he’s the 2017 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. You can see his acceptance speech in the video above.
Here are winners by state — click on any of these to see a full profile:
As the Southeastern Farmer of the Year, Mills will receive a $15,000 cash award plus $2,500 as a state winner from Swisher International. He will also receive the use of a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year from Massey Ferguson North America, a $500 gift certificate from the Southern States cooperative, a Columbia jacket from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply, a smoker-grill from Hays LTI, and a Henry Golden Boy “American Farmer” Tribute Edition rifle from Reinke Irrigation.
Massey Ferguson North America and its parent firm AGCO have been longtime sponsors of the award. “The Farmer of the Year award is our chance to give back to those who give each of us so much to be thankful for,” said Ash Alt, field marketing manager with AGCO. “We are pleased to provide one year’s use of a Massey Ferguson tractor to Robert Mills, and we look forward to working with Robert and his family in selecting a model that is right for their needs.”
Each state winner receives a $2,500 cash award and an expense paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International, a $500 gift certificate from the Southern States cooperative, and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply.