Kentucky Ag News
2014 Farmer of the Year finalists named
Kentucky Farm Bureau
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The competitive field for one of Kentucky Farm Bureau’s (KFB) top honors is now down to its three finalists as preliminary judging of the 2014 “Farmer of the Year” award is complete. Ronnie Cooper of Lincoln County, Keith Lowry of Graves County, and Jack Trumbo of Shelby County are the finalists considered for this year’s prestigious award.
KFB initiated a “Farmer of the Year” awards program as a way to recognize its members for their commitment to excellence in agriculture, efficiency in farming practices, sound financial management and outstanding leadership in their county Farm Bureau and other civic organizations. The award recognizes an individual whose personal efforts not only strengthen the state’s agriculture industry but also demonstrate service and leadership on and off the farm.
Cooper is a 24-year farming veteran from Lincoln County. Growing up on a family farm and working on it part-time through high school and college, Cooper entered full-time farming after buying into the family partnership in 1990. Today he raises a sizable herd of stocker and background steers and grows alfalfa hay, silage and shell corn, soybeans, tobacco, wheat and wheat silage on his 1,083-acre farm. Over the years, Cooper not only has expanded the size of his farm, but he has also worked diligently to increase harvest and baling efficiencies, build and improve cattle handling facilities, add an equipment storage building and workshop, as well as add fencing and buffer zones around waterways to reduce runoff and improve the land’s water quality. He has been a member of the Lincoln County Farm Bureau board of directors since 1991, serving as its president for nine years and vice president for seven. He is currently president of the Lincoln County Fair Board, a director of the Lincoln County Cattlemen’s Association, a member of the county’s Extension Council, Ag Development Board and Beef IRM Committee, and has offered additional time and leadership to numerous other local organizations.
Lowry, a 38-year farming veteran from Graves County, started his farm in 1976 with a tobacco crop and 250 acres of land. Today he has grown that initial investment into a self-sufficient 9,200-acre corn, soybean and wheat farm. Lowry has further diversified his efforts by acquiring a fleet of trucks to haul fertilizer and seed beans, and also purchased equipment to run a small excavating business. As he explored more ways to improve upon his farm’s productivity, Lowry adopted new precision agriculture practices, installed higher efficiency grain dryers and incorporated center pivots to better use water resources and manage drought issues. His two sons and their wives have recently joined this family effort and together they seek to build upon his success. Outside of the farm, Lowry has served on the Graves County Farm Bureau board of directors for 20 years, including 10 years as its secretary and treasurer, and is known throughout the community as a generous individual who is actively involved in numerous fundraising projects to assist those in need. In addition to volunteering much of his remaining time to local industry clubs and other civic organizations, Lowry also received the local Rotary Club’s “Humanitarian Award” in 2014 and was declared a “Master Conservationist” in 2002.
Trumbo, a 64-year farming veteran, grows cereal rye, corn, soybeans and winter wheat on his 2,170-acre farm based in Shelby County. Starting out on his father’s family farm at the age of 5, he had his hand in farming in some capacity until he plunged himself into full-time farming at the age of 42. With the help of his wife, Gwyn, to handle the finances and paperwork, Trumbo quickly grew his operation to several thousand acres with land in five surrounding counties. Land management is a focal point for his farm today, and incorporating practices like seasonal crop rotation, 100% no-till farming, waterway maintenance and the creation of buffer zones have helped minimize erosion and runoff. He has also taken advantage of technology as it became available and affordable, including the introduction of auto-steer, variable rate and geo-spatial applications to reduce the waste of fuel, fertilizers, herbicides and seed. Trumbo has been an active member of the Shelby County Farm Bureau board of directors since 1994 and served as its president for four years. He is currently a member of the KFB Soybean Advisory Committee, past president of the Shelby County Extension Service, and is a 30-plus-year member and past master of the Wingate Masonic Lodge #161. He has served since 2000 with the Kentucky and American Soybean Association boards and is currently a member of the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health Committee and his local USDA Farm Service Agency county committee. Trumbo has often given of his time and talents to many other industry-specific and community organizations.
Judges met in late September to conduct interviews with the finalists and visit the farms. The “Farmer of the Year” recipient will be announced at KFB’s 2014 state annual meeting in Louisville on December 5 and will receive $1,000 from the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation. All three finalists will be given a KFB jacket, and the runners-up will each receive $250 from the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation.
In addition to the statewide recognition and prizes, KFB’s “Farmer of the Year” winner will represent Kentucky in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern “Farmer of the Year” contest, the South’s most prestigious agricultural award, in Moultrie, Georgia, October 20-22, 2015. Last year’s state winner received $2,500 from Swisher International, one year’s use of a Massey Ferguson tractor, a $500 gift certificate from Southern States Cooperative, the choice of either $1,000 in PhytoGen cottonseed or a $500 donation to a designated charity from PhytoGen cottonseed, and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply. Kentucky’s winner will compete against nine other state winners for the chance to win a $15,000 grand prize award from Swisher International and several other sponsor-based prizes