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• As a result of his success as a row crop and livestock farmer, Donald Horsley has been selected as the 2011Virginia winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.
State level interests
On the state level, Horsley has been active in Virginia’s Pork Industry Association, Pork Industry Board, State Fair, Agribusiness Council, Grain Producers Association, Soybean Association, Corn Growers Association, and Agricultural Council.
Nationally, he has been active in the Pork Forum and Pork Producers Council and is a member of the American Soybean and National Corn Growers Associations.
He met his wife Diane in 4-H. They competed against each other in livestock judging, and when Donald ran for state 4-H president, he asked Diane for her vote. Diane and Donald have hosted 4-H exchange students from Switzerland, England and Japan who came to the U.S. to experience farm life.
Diane graduated from Radford College, having majored in home economics, and taught school until her oldest son was born. Since then, she has worked as a homemaker and bookkeeper for the family and farm.
Diane continues to be a 4-H volunteer and has been active in Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom projects and Women's Committee. She was named Virginia Farm Bureau Farm Woman of the Year in 1988.
She served on Virginia Beach's Parks and Recreation Commission and presently serves on the Agricultural Advisory Commission and Historic Preservation Commission. Diane's dream is to someday restore an old farm house on their property.
The Horsley’s have two adult sons. Their older son Shane works off the farm as an analyst for Smithfield Foods. Shane helps on the farm when he's not working at his main job, and he has provided sound advice on commodity markets and in managing farm employees.
Their son Ryan works full time on the family farm. He is involved with all aspects of the farm and manages the entire hog operation.
The Horsley’s attend Blackwater Baptist Church.
Horsley says, "At Land of Promise Farms, our family partnership enjoys sharing in the day to day farm work as well as its challenges and its rewards."
Cathy Sutphin, associate director for 4-H with Virginia Tech’s Cooperative Extension Service, is state coordinator of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards.
Horsley was nominated for the honor by Watson Lawrence, Extension agent in Chesapeake, Va. Lawrence says, “Don has built a successful farm by adopting modern farming techniques. During periods of low commodity prices, he developed his niche enterprises. He has been a leader in commodity organizations and especially among farmers in Virginia Beach.”
As the Virginia state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo award, Horsley will now receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla., a jacket and a $200 gift certificate from the Williamson-Dickie Company, and a $500 gift certificate from Southern States.