After a diagnosis of clinical depression, with the help and support of his family and medical community, Richard Jameson is now able to manage the stress that comes with farming.

Jameson, of Brownsville, Tenn., has become a topnotch soil conservationist, a successful row crop producer and community leader.

As a result of his success as a diversified crop farmer, Jameson has been selected as the Tennessee state winner of the 2013 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.

Richard Jameson now joins nine other state winners from the Southeast as finalists for the award. The overall winner will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.

A farmer for 37 years, Jameson operates 2,350 acres, including 550 acres of rented land and 1,800 acres of owned land, with crops of cotton, corn, wheat and soybeans.

He produces impressive yields. Last year’s per acre yields included irrigated cotton on 290 acres, 1,250 pounds; dryland cotton on 65 acres, 875 pounds; irrigated corn on 400 acres, 190 bushels; dryland corn on 450 acres, 125 bushels; wheat on 550 acres, 70 bushels; double-cropped irrigated soybeans on 200 acres, 48 bushels; double-cropped dryland soybeans on 350 acres, 35 bushels; irrigated full season soybeans on 310 acres, 65 bushels; and dryland full season soybeans on 285 acres, 42 bushels. 

He markets cotton through the Staplcotn cooperative. For grain and soybeans, he uses a combination of forward price contracts, seed production contracts and cash sales. He sells much of his corn to an ethanol plant. He also uses his grain storage facilities to hold crops before selling for higher seasonal prices.

His depression resulted in large part from personal and business losses, including the deaths of both of his parents within a nine-month period, severe droughts and aflatoxin in his corn.

“My father was my partner and mentor,” he recalls. “After he died, I felt anxious and hopeless. My wife Jane encouraged me to seek medical help, and my doctor diagnosed my depression. My doctor, along with my Christian faith, prayer, a circle of friends and Jane, helped get me started on the road to recovery.”

 

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Jameson says his own behavior contributed to his condition. “I needed to separate emotion from business decisions,” he explains. “I couldn’t control everything that was uncontrollable in farming, but I could better manage these events. To that end, I added irrigation and changed my marketing approach.”