|By TIM THORNBERRY
MORGANTOWN, Ky. — Former Kentucky Farm Bureau President Sam Moore has been chosen as the 2006 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year for Kentucky. He was selected in judging by the Kentucky Farm Bureau and nominated by Marshall Coyle.
Moore now joins eight other state winners as a finalist for the national award, which will be announced during the Sunbelt Expo in Moultrie, Ga. on Tuesday, Oct. 17. He is also the first Farmer of the Year for Kentucky as the state was added this year in competition
Swisher International, through its Swisher Sweets cigar brand, and the Sunbelt Expo has sponsored the Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award for the 17th consecutive year. Swisher has contributed more than $700,000 in cash awards and other honors since the initiation of the award.
The program was started in 1990 by Swisher International and the Sunbelt Expo as a way to honor “excellence in agriculture” by farmers and farming families in the Southeast; and today, is recognized as a top agricultural award in the Southeast and the nation.
Moore got his start in farming on the family farm as a high school student putting out 100 acres of row crops and looking after 20 cows.
“My dad was a construction worker and usually left home on Monday morning and returned on Saturday night,” Moore said. “He allowed me to use the equipment we had and paid me one-fourth of everything we could make.”
After graduating from high school and marrying wife Helen, the couple decided to start their own farm and purchased 120-acres. The operation included several acres of tobacco and 30 dairy cows.
From their modest beginnings, the Moore farm has grown into a 4,200-acre operation that includes 1,500 acres of corn, 1,200 acres soybeans, 150 acres of silage, 150 acres of mixed hay and a cattle operation with 400 head of purebred Angus cows, 60 head of Angus heifers and 30 head of Angus bulls.
“Most of our purebred Angus beef cattle are marketed as breeding stock,” said Moore. “All of our cows, bulls and heifers are registered Angus. We enjoy quite a bit of repeat business with our cattle because of our dedication to offering high-quality Angus breeding stock.”
The corn and soybeans produced on the farm are sold through cash sales while there has been a steady increase of the grain storage on the farm with a current capacity of 100,000 bushels.
Bobby Batson, director of the Southeastern Farmer of the Year Program for Swisher said picking an overall winner isn’t an easy task.
“In the 17 years of the program, there’s never been a ‘down’ year in the competition or the judging process. It’s easy to see why American is number one in the world in the agricultural industry,” he said. “Each of our judges has a different background in the agriculture industry. That gives us three different views of the farm and different questions concerning the operation. I often joke with the judges on how easy their job is; just pick any one of the nine and you’ll have a great winner. But with the quality of the state winners over the years, it’s an extremely difficult task to narrow it down to one.”
A distinguished panel of judges will visit Moore’s farm, along with the other eight state finalists, during the week of Aug. 7-11. From there an overall winner will be chosen. The judges for this year include Eric Raby, vice-president of Marketing, Massey Ferguson North America; Roger Reynolds, retired executive with Farm Credit; and Dr. Jim Butler, retired agricultural engineer and research leader.
Each state winner must be a farmer or the member of a farming family actively involved in the agriculture industry in the nine states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia with farming as the main source of income.
For more information on the program visit the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year website at www.sunbeltexpo.com/farmer.html
This farm news was published in the August 9, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.