October 15, 2013

Farmer of the Year nominees honored at banquet in Valdosta

October 15, 2013 Stuart Taylor The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — At the Rainwater Conference Center Monday night, attendees gathered to honor the 10 state Farmers of the Year who are competing for Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year. With the winner set to be announced on Tuesday at the Willie B Withers Luncheon, Monday night's dinner gave everyone a chance to both appreciate the nominees and appreciate the full scope of agriculture across the Southeastern United States.

Some of the nominated farmers have built their agricultural enterprises by specializing in just one or two things. Farmers like Phillip DeSalvo, whose Big D Ranch in Arkansas raises Ultrablack cattle along with growing wheat and hay, or Abbott Myers, whose Mississippi farm produces rice, along with soybeans and corn.

Other nominees have found success in raising a little bit of everything, like Wilbur Earp, who raises corn and wheat alongside cattle, hogs and Bermuda grass in North Carolina, or Annie Dee Sikora, who splits her Alabama farm between beef cattle, grain, cotton, corn and pine wood.

All 10 have exhibited agricultural excellence and grit but only one can win the Farmer of the Year Award on Tuesday, a prestigious title that comes with a prize of $15,000 and the use of a new Massey Ferguson tractor for a year, among others.

The ten nominees are: Annie Dee (Ed) Sikora of Alabama; Phillip (Beth) DeSalvo of Arkansas; John Scott (Janet) Long of Florida; Will (Von) Harris of Georgia; Scott (Rpbbie) Travis of Kentucky; Abbott (Sheryl) Myers of Mississippi; Wilbur (Mary) Earp of North Carolina; James (Kathi) Cooley of South Carolina; Richard (Jane) Jameson of Tennessee; Lin (Brenda) Jones of Virginia.

The 36th Annual Sunbelt Expo gets its start today at 9:30 a.m. in Moultrie and is scheduled to run until Thursday, October 17.

For more information visit the Sunbelt Expo website at SunbeltExpo.com or download their iPhone and Android app, Sunbelt 13.

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