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2014 Farm City Festival Highlights

14 Farm City Festival Title SlideThe Jackson County Farm City Celebration was bigger and better than ever this year.  On Friday morning over 300 people gathered at Rivertown Community Church to recognize 12 farm families.  Following the breakfast, 25 antique tractors drove six miles from the Agriculture Center on Highway 90 to the Marianna Farmers Market, and then made the return trip after lunch.  On Friday night, 16 garden tractors pulled the sled in a competition at the Agriculture Center. Saturday was a fun day with a combination of antique tractors competing in a Tractor Pull, and Craft Vendors selling their original creations, as well as County FFA Chapters and the Cattlemen’s Association selling food and snacks.

Important!

You may not have been able to take part in all of the events, but the following are some of the highlights from the the two days of activities.  Be sure and check out the videos of the antique tractor events following the award recognitions below.

Peanut Butter Challenge

Jackson County Extension had two celebrities come by to celebrate the donation 120 jars of peanut butter totaling 2,555 Ounces or almost 160 pounds of Peanut Butter that was donated through the Peanut Butter Challenge.  Ken Barton, Executive Director of Florida Peanut Producers Association (left), and Mr. Peanut (right) congratulated Angel Granger, Jackson County 4-H Agent on this success of this year’s food drive.  All of the peanut butter that was collected will be donated to the Jackson County Back Packs for KIDS program.The Jackson County Extension Service had two of Florida’s top peanut officials drop in to celebrate the donation 120 jars of peanut butter totaling 2,555 ounces, or 160 pounds. All of the peanut butter was donated through the Peanut Butter Challenge that ended with the Farm City Breakfast. Ken Barton, Executive Director of the Florida Peanut Producers Association (left), and Mr. Peanut (right) congratulated Angel Granger, Jackson County 4-H Agent (center)  on this success of this year’s food drive. All of the peanut butter that was collected will be donated to the Jackson County Backpack for KIDS program.  Thank you to everyone who contributed to help “Take a Bite Out of Hunger” in Jackson County.

Farm City Awards Breakfast

Ed Jowers Farm City Scholarship – Katie Mayo

Katie Mayo ws congratulated by retired County Agent Ed Jowers.

Katie Mayo was congratulated by retired County Agent Ed Jowers.

Katie Mayo is the daughter of Doug and Nichole Mayo of Marianna. Her father is the County Extension Director for Jackson County. She is a currently a freshman at Chipola College. While not part of a true farm family, her father has spent the past 14 years serving as a resource person for the agricultural industry in Jackson County. She grew up with a unique appreciation of farming and ranching through her family experiences.

Katie graduated from Marianna High School in 2014 where she was involved in the Marianna FFA Chapter for 4 years. She was also a Jackson County 4-H member for 10 years. She held multiple offices in both organizations. Katie served as president of her 4-H club, and as chaplain, and then vice president for her FFA Chapter.

As both a 4-H’er and an FFA member, Katie completed many livestock projects including: 3 heifer projects, 1 hog project, and 3 poultry projects. She was also a member of Chipola 4-H club’s judging team, and Marianna FFA’s Parliamentary Procedures, Horticultural Demonstration, and Agribusiness Management teams. As an FFA Member, Katie earned the Green Hand Degree, Chapter Farmer Degree, and the State FFA Degree. She was a Marianna High School Honor Graduate, was recognized as a Distinguished Bulldog, and was selected as the Marianna Optimus Club’s Student of the Month.

After graduating from Chipola with her AA degree, Katie plans to continue in her education at the University of Florida to pursue a degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. Although Food Science is not traditional production agriculture, it plays a vital role in the Agricultural Industry. Food science combines biology, physical science and engineering to create nutritious and safe consumer food products. While it is important to grow the raw commodities, it is equally important to produce wholesome food products that the consumers can enjoy.

The Farm City Scholarship is selected by a committee of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. The selection criteria for this scholarship include: a student from a farm family, pursuing a college degree in agriculture, and leadership and participation in 4-H and FFA activities.

Hill & Hill Cattle Farm Family webOutstanding Farm Family – John Hill Family aka Hill & Hill Cattle Company

Three generations of family work together under the name of Hill and Hill Cattle Company. John B. Hill and his fiancé Melanie Baggett, his mother Joann, and his sister Olivia, and her three children: Hayley, Ben and Claire work together on a farm in the Simsville Community.

Hill and Hill Cattle Company got its start when John P. Hill and Joann started a farming operation in 1970 with the purchase of 30 acres in the Rocky Creek Community raising yearling cattle. A year later they had their son John B. Hill, and then their daughter Olivia a few years later.   In 1988 they sold the original 30 acres, which provided the equity to purchase the first 160 acres of the land they still farm today.   With the additional land, John started a cow-calf operation and also started raising peanuts. They purchased 30 head of registered Angus heifers from the Thompson Brothers Farm and started building a top notch herd of purebred cattle.

Tragically John P. Hill was killed in a car accident in 1996. At 25 years old, the young man who had learned the farming business from his father suddenly had to take over the management of the farm. John B. Hill, aka Johnny, or “Wugga”, as his father dubbed him, has spent the past 18 years honing his skills at ranching and farming. To do that he has stuck to growing the three things he can do well: cattle, peanuts and hay. He now farms a combination of owned and rented land in the south central region of Jackson County.

John has built his herd up to 330 head of purebred and commercial cattle.   From his father’s original base Angus herd, John has developed 125 head of quality registered females, and is in the process of developing a herd of SimAngus (registered crosses of Simmental and Angus). He has a unique system for marketing his cattle. His heifers are sold to Champion Hill Angus for use a recipient cows in their embryo transfer operation. His purebred bulls are sold after weaning to be developed and resold as commercial herd sires. His steers are vaccinated, weaned and fed for 45 days before being sold through the Alabama SAFE Board Sale in Dothan. John has worked to create a consistent market outlet where his cattle bring top dollar every year.

Peanuts were also a farming craft John learned from his father. Cattle ranching and peanut farming work well together. None of the farm is irrigated, so John, like his father before him, has relied on one of the best known farming practices to ensure consistent success, crop rotation. He grazes a pasture for five years and then rotates with a year of peanuts. The long grass rotation prevents nematode and disease problems that can limit the yield and quality of peanuts. The grasses help to build up organic matter, and the peanuts leave nitrogen for the grass crops that follow.   After the peanuts are harvested, John uses these fields to plant annual winter forages, which provide excellent grazing to annually boost the productivity of his herd. Once the winter pasture plays out, he plants bahiagrass, which remains until it is time for peanut planting once again. His reputation as a top notch peanut farmer helped him secure a contract with Golden Peanut to produce their “seed peanuts”, which the company then sells to other farmers for use in peanut planting.

Perhaps what John has become most known for in Jackson County is his eye for cattle selection. He has a special talent for picking the type of cattle that are structurally sound, functional and productive. Many ranchers rely on his keen eye and skill to help them select their breeding stock for their herds. When asked about this special talent John said, “Being born into the cattle business helps.” Cattle ranching is the only life he has known. John grew up helping his father care for cattle every day. While he is known for growing quality peanuts, his reputation as a “Cowman’s cowman” has made him a true asset and friend to the ranchers of Jackson County.

The Outstanding Farm Family is selected each year by a committee of past winners for the Jackson County Farm Bureau.

Cindale Farms Ag Innovators webAgricultural Innovators– Cindale Farms & Southern Craft Creamery

The Eade family has been working full time in the dairy business for 34 years. In 1994, Dale left a salaried position at a 2000 cow dairy in Jefferson County primarily managing people, to strike out on his own and get back to managing cows. The Eades moved to Jackson County because they were able to find dairy farms available for lease. In 2003, they built up enough equity to purchase 500 acres of land, giving Cindale Farms a permanent home. They grew their herd to 350 lactating cows, with another 250 cows serving as replacements in the milk rotation.

Dale and Cindy have always looked at new innovations in the dairy business, but the size of their herd has limited the adoption of fancy systems, equipment and facilities. Their greatest innovation was developing the business to the point that they could include the families of their two adult daughters. Dale and Cindy, both college graduates, put their daughters through school as well. Meghan graduated from veterinary school, and Lauren got a degree in food and resource economics. Brad, Meghan’s husband, has a PhD in cattle reproduction and nutrition. Zach, Lauren’s husband, served in the Marines and has a degree in aviation management. While most farm kids go off to college and build their own lives in new locations, this family found a way to come back together on the farm.

Meghan and her husband, Brad Austin, came back to the farm first, in 2009. The expertise that Brad and Meghan added helped to reduce costs and enhance the performance of the cattle by improving the nutrition, health, and reproduction of the herd. Brad works full-time at the dairy, and Meghan balances her time between her part-time cattle practice, and managing the health of the dairy herd. Dale and Brad combined their experience and expertise to develop a hybrid feeding system, utilizing both grazing and mixed-rations, to maintain their herd size, while fully utilizing their land resources. With a more efficient herd, two families could make a living without considerable expansion.

In 2012, Lauren and Zach came back to the farm to help create a value-added product from the raw milk produced at the dairy. Liquid milk is a very competitive market, and cheese requires aging and significant inventory, so they decided to create a hand-crafted ice cream. After a full year of trial and error to perfect their process and to develop unique flavors, they launched an artisan line of ice creams under the brand name “Southern Craft Creamery.”

Ice cream is normally made in large quantities with automated equipment. What makes Southern Craft Creamery ice cream special is that nothing is automated, only made in small batches, with a unique process for each flavor. They slow pasteurize the milk, allowing the flavors to be enhanced during the heating, and then age the ice cream for 12 hours as it slowly cools down before freezing. The flavoring ingredients come only from local farms or known sources, to ensure the same high quality as the milk that serves as the base. Their product is unique, but so is their marketing system. Southern Craft Creamery ice cream is not sold in chain grocery stores, but through locally owned specialty stores and restaurants, creating a direct path from their farm to the local consumer’s table.

The Agricultural Innovators of the Year are selected each year by the County Extension Service.

Willie Earl Paramore Conservationist webConservationist of the Year – Willie Earl Paramore

Willie Earl Paramore owns 751 acres in Jackson County. He has participated in several of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs, such as the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Pollinator Habitat Initiative. His WHIP project was part of the upland wildlife management program which includes land other than wetlands. This program assists individuals who wish to develop and improve wildlife habitat on their land. WHIP provided for technical and cost-share assistance. With the signing of the 2014 Farm Bill WHIP was rolled into EQIP as a Habitat component. Because these are voluntary, cost-share programs, Mr. Paramore has made a substantial investment to preserve natural habitat for wildlife on his private land.

Mr. Paramore has owned this land for over 40 years and began planting longleaf pine in 1988. The youngest trees on his property were planted in 1994. Through WHIP, he participated in the following practices: Brush Management, Herbaceous Weed Control and Management and Prescribed Burning. Mr. Paramore understands the value of prescribed burning and its’ benefits to the forest and wildlife. When asked how often he burns, he stated, “I burn all the time”. Which means that on his land, approximately 300 acres are planted in pine and divided into six sections for smaller, more controlled burns. He uses a two year burn rotation to help maintain a healthier more natural environment. He has also converted logging ramps into food plots for wildlife which is among the many reasons for prescribed burning. When done correctly, burning has been found to be highly effective, serving a number of purposes that promote a healthy, natural forest environment.

Mr. Paramore’s most recent venture into wildlife conservation has been through the EQIP program to promote pollinator habitat that will provide foraging opportunities year-round for both the areas native pollinators such as native bees, beetles, and butterflies, and for his own honey bees.

Through Mr. Paramore’s encouragement the family tradition of conservation continues. Both his son and nephew follow in his path of wildlife management efforts. Each of these men exhibit exemplary actions when it comes to conserving wildlife habitat and forest health for future generations. The Natural Resources Conservation Service looks forward to a continued partnership with the Paramore family conserve and protect wildlife habitat on their privately owned land.

The Conservationist of the Year is selected each year by the staff of the Jackson District of the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Billy Bigham 2014 Cattlemen of the YearCattleman of the Year – Billy Bigham

Billy Bigham is a third generation Florida Cattlemen. In 1979, he and his father started a cattle and watermelon farm near Coleman, Florida in Sumter County. As a senior in high school, Billy grew 40 acres of watermelons. After high school graduation, he started working full-time with his father on their farm. In 1998, his father retired, and Billy took over the management of Bigham Farms.

Over time development started encroaching on much of the farm land in Central Florida. The land got too valuable to farm, and land was no longer available to lease for pasture or crops. Billy looked at available property in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, and North Florida. When they found land for sale located along Old US Road in Jackson County, they knew they had found their new home. Because of the land boom down south, he was able to purchase 3,000 acres of crop land in Jackson County from the sale of 1,000 acres in Sumter County.

Bigham Farms is now combination of pasture, row crops, timber, and natural wetlands. 1,000 acres of the farm is dedicated to pasture and hay production for their 350 head commercial cow-calf herd. They have 450 acres of natural wildlife habitat along Cowert’s Creek and the Chipola River, and 125 acres of planted pines. The remainder of the farm is leased out to row crop farmers in the area for peanuts, cotton, and other crops.

Billy has served on the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Board of Directors for the past two years. He stepped up to serve as Treasurer of the organization this year. Billy worked very hard for the Association this year to help organize and host a very successful Cattlemen’s Tour, which over 75 people attended. He was also instrumental in the forming of the Chipola Sportsman’s Association which raises funds to enhance wildlife management and also supports Chipola student through scholarships. While Billy has only been a Jackson County resident for a relatively short time, he has quickly made an impact with his willingness to serve. He is very dedicated to promoting the cattle industry and protecting the rights of private property owners.

Billy has been married for the past 25 years to his wife Stormy. They have a son Lee, who also works full time on the farm, who has a 2 ½ year old daughter Ava. Lee is the future of Bigham Farms. Currently he and Billy work together, but Billy is already making plans to pass the torch to the fourth generation of Bighams.

The Cattlemen of the Year is selected each year by the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association.

Elizabeth Barron Tree Farmer webTree Farmers of the Year – Darrell & Elizabeth Barron

The Barron’s journey began in 1969, when Darrell and Elizabeth purchased farmland in Jackson County, Florida. They initially planted the land in row crops, but around 1988, decided to convert their acreage to loblolly pines. This was only the first step in what was to become a comprehensive education in environmentally responsible tree farming. To better educate herself in best practices, Elizabeth completed the Master Tree Farmer course in 2000, offered through the Extension Service. In addition, they regularly consulted with the County Foresters for critical information and advice along the way. They viewed them as indispensable guides along their journey.

Throughout the years, Darrell and Elizabeth worked as partners to maintain a pine forest that they could be proud of.   They always strived to realize their overarching objective, which was to be good Forest Stewards of their land and to practice the best silviculture management practices. To do this they developed five goals for their farm:

  1. Timber Production: To manage their timber they utilized prescribe burning, herbicide use, plowing fire breaks, thinning, as advised by the County Forester. Timber is an important renewable resource that is vital to our national economy, and they wanted to do everything possible to maximize the health and longevity of their pine forest.
  1. Wildlife Habitat: To make their forest inviting to wildlife, they planted food plots, created openings for wildlife to travel, managed their pond for wild duck migration, and preserved natural wetlands for wildlife habitat.
  2. Recreation: Darrell was an avid outdoorsman and he so enjoyed his farm for fishing, bird watching, hiking and camping.   The Barrons have spent hours watching the wild ducks fly into their pond in the winter, and comparing the various animal tracks and prints. Their children and grandchildren also enjoy camping and hiking in the forest. Although they live in another state, when the kids come home to visit, their first request is to go to the farm. Their fondest childhood memories are the times spent as a family together on the farm.
  3. Conservation: To maintain a sustainable, environmentally responsible farming approach that prevents damage to the soil and water sources.
  4. Natural beauty: To create an aesthetic atmosphere that is visually appealing.

Darrell valiantly fought Alzheimer’s disease for many years, and recently passed away.   As a result, Elizabeth has become the sole manager of farms in both Jackson and Washington Counties. Elizabeth is dedicated to maintaining the goals the couple first established together back in 1969. She is resolved to be a good steward and leave her pine forest for the next generation to enjoy.

The Tree Farmer of the Year is selected each year by the Florida Forest Service’s County Forester, Barry Stafford.

Gilbert Farms Peanut Farmers webPeanut Farmers of the Year – Gilbert Farms

Dexter Gilbert along with his father, Lury, and nephew Jadrian, own and operate Gilbert Farms based in Campbellton, Florida. Also, working with Gilbert Farms are his cousin Lonnie Gilbert, Allan Hollis and Reginold Britt.

Dexter is a 3rd generation farmer who grew up raising corn, soybeans, peanuts, hogs, cattle and vegetables with his parents and grandparents. As Dexter was growing up, his family minimized their farming operations in order to obtain more consistent and stable income from work off the farm. However, when Dexter graduated high school, he and his late brother, LT Gilbert, decided they wanted to go into farming full time.

In 1997, the Gilbert brothers grew 70 acres of corn, 40 acres of peanuts, 30 acres of soybeans, and operated a custom harvesting business. From these small beginnings, Gilbert Farms grew to what it is today: a farm that grows 2,000 acres of peanuts and is spread out across Jackson County from Blue Springs to Graceville.

Because their operation is so spread out, the Gilberts usually grow one crop per year, rotating all of their land at the same time. The last 2 years they grew only cotton and this year they grew only peanuts. When asked about his rotation strategy, Dexter recognizes that it may not be the ideal situation in terms of risk management, but says that focusing on one crop helps to get the job done, since they farm over such a large area. They also do some of their own on-farm testing. This year they compared twin row verses a single row planting pattern. They tested the 2 methods side by side and saw a 30% increase in production from twin row planting.

Almost all of their land is dryland or non-irrigated, which can be especially challenging in a year like this one, when the rainfall was so sparse this summer. Despite the dry summer, Dexter Farms averaged 3,000 lbs./acre over their 2,000 acres of peanuts.

When asked about the key to his success Dexter said, “I am grateful to God for His blessings. He is the one that brings the sunshine and the rain, without Him none of this would be possible.”

Dexter is grateful to all of his family and friends for their support and love. He would especially like to thank his mother Zane Gilbert, his wife Tracey, and children: Clay, Coby and Dexi. He would also like to thank Jason and Todd Mason; David, Jeff, and Skyler DeFelix; and Christopher Dietrich for helping Gilbert Farms with their harvesting this year.

The Peanut Farmer of the Year is selected each year by the Jackson County Extension Service with assistance from the Florida Peanut Producer’s Association.

Dietrcih Farms Cotton Farmers webCotton Farmers of the Year – Dietrich Farms

Arthur & Charlotte Dietrich and their family moved from Missouri to Cottondale, Florida in 1972. It was there that Gordon met Lady at Cottondale High School. Gordon and Lady were married in 1980 and in 1984 bought a farm in Campbellton, where they raised their family.

The Dietrichs started off growing peanuts, corn and cattle, and it was not until 1995 that they grew their first cotton crop. That same year hurricane Opal devastated the Panhandle, and much of the east coast. The storm came late in the season causing most of the Dietrich’s cotton to fall to the ground. The Dietrichs continued to grow cotton 4 more years, but eventually stopped because of crop input costs were outweighing the return. However, things change and people forget past miseries, so the Dietrichs decided to grow cotton again in 2009.

Cotton production changed drastically during the 9 year hiatus they took from growing cotton. New seed technologies not only provided higher yields, but also decreased the amount of pesticide applications that were needed because of herbicide and insect resistance traits.

Since 2009, the Dietrichs have tried to improve their cotton crop each year. One thing that is important to their operation is soil conservation. They utilize cover crops and crop residues, along with strip-tillage to enhance the soil and minimize organic matter and moisture loss. The Dietrichs utilize anhydrous ammonia as their main source of nitrogen fertilizer, because of its affordability as well as persistence in the root zone of soil. Furthermore, all of their cotton, corn, and peanuts are planted in 30 inch rows (as opposed to 36 inch spacing), which allows for greater light interception and potentially higher yields.

This year the Dietrichs grew 370 acres of cotton, about 60% of which was irrigated. On their irrigated land they are able to yield between 1400-1500 lbs of lint per acre, and around 800 lbs per acre on dryland. The Dietrichs believe that rotation, irrigation, chicken litter, and good varieties are the management factors that have helped their operation be a success this year.

Dietrich Farms is truly a family business, with 4 generations living and working together on the farm. The family includes Arthur and Charlotte along with Gordon and Lady, their son Christopher and his wife Holly, and their children Jackson and Cale. Gordon and Lady’s daughter Hannah and husband Mark and their children, Shelby and Cooper live in Chipley, but also enjoy helping on the farm when they visit. Gordon and Lady’s son Nicholas, lives in Maryland and helps when he comes back to the farm to visit.

The Cotton Farmer of the Year is selected each year by the Jackson County Extension Service with the assistance of the local Cotton Gins.

Bishop Farms Corn Farmer webCorn Farmer of the Year – Craig Bishop Farms

This year, Craig Bishop of Craig Bishop Farms, grew 500 acres of corn with great success. This is his second year in a row winning the High Corn Yield Award, and only his third year ever growing corn.

His official top yield, verified by County Extension Service, came in at 287 bushels per acre, setting a new county record. Bishop grew several hybrids on his farm but Dekalb 66-97 was the top performer at 287 bushels. Across his 500 acres of corn Bishop averaged 256 bushels per acre.

Craig Bishop has a different story than many traditional farmers in that he was not raised on a farm. Bishop attended Grand Ridge High School, graduated in 1985 and then attended Chipola College where he received an A.A. in Business. It was not until 1992 that Bishop began his farming operation.

His first year of farming, he grew 17 acres of peanuts on halves with another local farmer. The next year he increased his acreage and grew cotton and peanuts. Every year he was able to double his acreage until he was farming about 2,500 acres. After that he gradually grew his business until he was farming between 5,000 and 6,000 acres of peanuts, cotton, corn and soybeans.

Challenges that affected corn this year included heavy rains and cool temperatures in the early spring, which caused the corn to have a slow start. Playing catch-up all year was going fine until an unprecedented outbreak of Southern Corn Rust, a yield-robbing disease, came blowing up from the tropics. Despite these challenges and others, Bishop was able to achieve outstanding yields.

Bishop believes the ability to track how the top hybrids perform side by side in the same field through yield monitors has really helped him identify the top hybrids for his farm. He has also compared how irrigation and fertility have influence his corn yields.

When asked about the one thing that has contributed the most to his success, Bishop replied, “Without the help of the Good Lord, none of this would be possible.” He added jokingly, “I guess He knew I needed the money… even though with these prices, all of my corn is still sitting in the grain bin.”

Craig Bishop is joined today by his wife of 18 years, Kimberly Bishop, and their children Marcus, Caroline and Emily.

The Corn Farmer of the Year Award is based on standardized yield checks provided by the Jackson County Extension Service.

Bill Conrad Hay Farmer webHay Farmer of the Year – Bill Conrad

Bill Conrad is a 4th generation Jackson County farmer. On his family farm he has raised a number of traditional crops, such as peanuts, soybeans, corn, wheat, triticale, and pine trees. He also has been several years developing a quality forage business. Bill produces small square-bale alfalfa and perennial peanut hay, which is sold primarily to horse and goat producers. This past year he began producing high quality, round-bale baleage from the cereal grain rye in the late winter and early spring, and forage sorghum during the summer. The baleage is sold to feed beef and dairy cattle herds.

Baleage is simply forage stored as silage in larege round bales that are wilted and harvested with 60% moisture, then wrapped in plastic in long tubes to prevent airflow that would allow spoilage. With limited oxygen, the forage ensiles rather than spoils. Similar to the way canning or pickling preserves fresh vegetables, baleage preserves high moisture forages for cattle feeding months later. Hay is preserved through drying, much like making jerky. However, when weather conditions are unfavorable for hay drying, baleage offers a viable alternative. The nutritional value is similar, but cows actually prefer eating the baleage because the higher moisture is more like fresh grass.

This year Bill sent in four forage samples for quality testing on behalf of Conrad Farms. The highest quality sample was his rye baleage produced in the field north of Highway 2 off Grove Road. This rye baleage had a Relative Forage Quality (RFQ) index of 214.6 with an estimated dry matter intake of 3.6 % of body weight. An RFQ index of 100 is equal to mature, or low quality alfalfa hay. RFQ is a single number index that takes into account the protein, energy, fiber and digestibility of the hay. The baleage was preserved with 46.3 % dry matter content, 15.6 % Crude Protein (CP), and 73 % Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN), on a dry matter basis.

Interestingly, this sample was rated of higher quality than an alfalfa hay sample Bill sent in a few months later. The alfalfa sample contained 24.9% protein, but only 67% TDN. The difference in the two high quality samples was that the alfalfa had 5% higher indigestible fiber, as compared to the rye baleage.   This shows the value of the RFQ system, because protein is not the only one the factor used to measure quality. For the RFQ index, fiber digestibility is used to estimate how much energy and other nutrients are actually available in the forage to the animals being fed.

Bill has been married to his wife Donna for 28 years, and they have five children: B.J. – 24 who is married to Charity, Rachael-22, Joseph-19, Elijah-17, and Heidi-15.

The Hay Farmer of the Year is based on standardized quality testing of forage samples submitted through the Extension Service.

County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship (CARES) Awards

Andy Andreasen with AAA Farm and Mack Glass of Cherokee Ranch were recognized for their exceptional natural resource stewardship with a County Alliance for Responsible Environmental Stewardship (CARES) award during a Farm-City Week breakfast at the Rivertown Community Church in Marianna on Nov. 21.

The CARES award spotlights farmers and ranchers who have implemented environmentally sound Best Management Practices (BMPs) to maximize the conservation and protection of natural resources on their properties.

“In addition to providing us with fresh and nutritious food that we can enjoy each day, farmers and ranchers also conserve freshwater resources, wildlife habitat and greenspace,” said Scot Eubanks, CARES coordinator for Florida Farm Bureau. “This award is about recognizing them for their outstanding achievements in preserving the environment.”

Cherokee Ranch CARES Award webCherokee Ranch, originated in 1916, is a beef cattle, satsuma and timber farm. Glass has implemented micro irrigation in the satsuma groves and utilizes drinking water wells for the cattle to protect the natural wetlands.

AAA Farms CARES Award webAAA Farm, also established in the 1900’s, is a beef cattle, hay and small grains operation. Andreasen practices rotational grazing, no-till planting and utilizes drinking wells for the cattle on AAA Farm. Integrated pest management is utilized to minimize pesticide applications.

Glass and Andreasen are active in their local community and are members of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association.

Farm owners who have met verifiable standards of excellence in resource management receive a CARES designation and an identifying CARES sign to post on their property recognizing them for their commitment in taking the lead as environmental stewards.

The CARES program was created by Florida Farm Bureau and the Suwannee River Partnership in 2001 to promote public recognition of state-of-the art agricultural production techniques. In partnership with more than 60 public agencies, CARES has become a model for the rest of the nation. More than 600 agriculturists statewide have received the CARES award.

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Permanent link to this article: http://jackson.ifas.ufl.edu/agriculture/2014/11/25/2014-farm-city-festival-highlights/