Since 1973, the Chamber of Commerce, Farm Credit of Northwest Florida, and the UF/IFAS Extension Service Jackson County have partnered to provide an annual Farm City Celebration. The highlight of the event is the recognition of outstanding farm families with special Farm City awards. This year, due to the Corona Virus outbreak, holding a community breakfast with several hundred people in attendance was not feasible. Because there was no opportunity for public recognition, farm families were not selected for six of the annual awards: Outstanding Farm Family, Peanut Farmer of the Year, Cotton Farmer of the Year, Specialty Crop Farmer of the Year, Conservationists of the Year, and Tree Farmer of the Year. However, there were four farm families and a scholarship winner that were selected for recognition in 2020 The following video and article were created to share the stories of the 2020 honorees:
2020 Farm City Awards
Craig Bishop – 2020 Corn Farmer of the Year
290 Bu./Ac – Pioneer 1870
2020 was a great year for corn in the area, due to timely rains early in the growing season, when water was needed most. For the fifth time, Bishop farms is being recognized as the high corn yield producer. This year Craig set a new county record of 290 bushels to the acre with the Pioneer 1870 variety. Craig had the top corn yields in 2013-2016 and is back on top this year overcoming steep competition. Our farmers are continuously striving to break through to 300 bu./ac, so Craig was really close this year. After receiving his plaque Bishop said, “I am thankful for this recognition. It was an honor and a privilege to be awarded this. We grew approximately 800 acres of corn this year and averaged around 250 bushels across the board on our irrigated corn. We annual plant five or six corn varieties so we can compare yields on our farm to see how each variety stacks up under the same conditions. Pioneer 1870 has been our top yielding variety.”
The corn farmer of the year is selected annually based on standardized corn yield checks conducted by the Jackson County Extension staff.
RFQ Index 232
Bill, B.J, Elijah, Joe, and Heidi Conrad, have produced the highest quality hay in the county for the past seven years. This year Bill’s best perennial peanut hay not only won the county award but was also recognized as the category winner of the Southeast Hay Contest, held annually in conjunction with the Sunbelt Ag Expo. Bill’s top entry had a relative forage quality (RFQ) index of 232, 14% crude protein, and 72% total digestible nutrients (TDN).
After receiving the award Bill said, “Our farm was primarily a row crop operation, but over the years we’ve transitioned into hay, I’ve been raising perennial peanut hay since 2005, and have been increasing my acres ever since. We face challenges every year with the hay market, weeds and changing weather. Every year is different with new challenges, but we’re looking forward to making a good crop again next year.”
The hay farmer of the year recognition is based on forage quality test results submitted through the Extension Service to a forage lab for analysis, with recognition given to the farmer that submitted the forage sample with the highest RFQ score.
Martin Basford – 2020 Cattleman of the Year
Jeff Snell, Past President of the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association, made the presentation of the Cattlemen of the Year Award on behalf of the Cattlemen’s Association and the Chamber of Commerce. During the presentation Snell said, “Each year the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association recognizes one deserving member with their most prestigious honor, recognizing them as Cattleman of the Year. In 2020 the recipient was Martin Basford. Martin has been chosen for this award for his outstanding service to our organization and to the 4-H and FFA youth involved in our county through the county steer show. Martin has taken a leadership role in our organization and we’re proud to say he is our incoming president this year. I would like to congratulate Martin for his honor.”
After receiving the plaque Basford replied, “I truly appreciate and consider it an honor to be presented this award, both by the Cattlemen’s Association and the Chamber of Commerce. I became involved with the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association several years ago when I realized the amount involvement they had in investing in our youth. I have children interested in the cattle business and the cattle industry. So after we became involved in the shows and got to see how much the Cattlemen’s Association did to make those things possible for our youth, that is when I decided to become a member, and quickly became very involved in promoting the cattle industry and getting youth involved learning about the cattle industry. Eventually I became the chair of the steer show through the Cattlemen’s Association. We know that if we don’t raise our youth to have interest in the cattle industry, we’re not going to have much of an industry left. I believe in educating our children and providing opportunities for those who are interested to get involved in this industry.”
Lazy Acres Farm – 2020 Farm Bureau CARES Recognition
Since 2001, Florida Farm Bureau Federation has recognized nearly 800 farm families for their voluntary efforts to protect Florida’s natural resources through the County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship (CARES) Program. Through the use of responsible stewardship practices, known as Best Management Practices (BMPs), Florida CARES farmers and ranchers show a sincere commitment to protecting and preserving the land, improving water and air quality, and positively contributing to freshwater recharge areas and wildlife habitat restoration.
When asked about receiving this recognition, Ryan Ziglar said, “My wife Kelly and I, along with our three sons Garrett, Dylan, and Nathan operate Lazy Acres Farm. We raise cows, pigs, and chickens and we sell beef pork and poultry here at our farm store, through our online store, and at farmer’s markets. Our farm migrates which means that we move our cows and chickens daily. We move our pigs move every month or so. This migration or movement helps build soil in our pastures. It also reduces the need for commercial fertilizer, and it helps dramatically with parasitic load on the farm. We also rely heavily on forage cover crops to protect against soil erosion while feeding our livestock.”
By enrolling in the Florida Department of Agriculture’s BMP Program, and showing a long-term commitment to BMP implementation, farmers and ranchers become eligible for CARES recognition. Once recognized, the farms receive a “This Farm CARES” customized 30”x 40” farm sign to demonstrate to the local community their involvement in environmental stewardship.
Each year the Chamber of Commerce awards the Ed Jowers, Future of Agriculture Scholarship to a recipient displaying exemplary scholastic extracurricular and agriculturally centered achievements. Selection emphasis for this scholarship is on an interest in a career in agriculture, student of a farm family, and 4-H or FFA and other extracurricular achievements. This year the recipient of a $1,500 scholarship was Anslie Yoder, who is currently a student at Chipola College.
After receiving the scholarship, Yoder shared, “My parents are Beaver and Michelle Yoder. I’ve grew up on my family’s cattle operation in Jackson and Calhoun Counties. Throughout high school I was very involved in showing cattle and livestock judging. I was very fortunate to judge and show at the state and national level. I’m currently a sophomore at Chipola College majoring in Ag Business, and I plan to transfer to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) to get a bachelor’s degree in ag business and stay involved in the agriculture industry. I want to thank the Chamber of Commerce, and the Selection Committee for this scholarship. I greatly appreciate the financial support to help me reach my career goals.”
COVID19 ruined a lot of celebrations in 2020. Because there was no opportunity for public recognition, please make an extra effort to reach out and congratulate the five families on their achievements. We all hope that we will be able to once again to celebrate as a community the bounty of agriculture in Jackson County, in November 2021.