“Heath does not farm trust land for the bank, but he is well-known in this community as a good farmer,” says Grantham. “Heath epitomizes what it means to be a farmer. He could have done anything he wanted to do, but he came back to the farm. He’s a hands-on farmer, and the many committees and organizations he serves on shows his love of farming. He works hard at it.”

As Arkansas state winner, Long will now receive s $2,500 cash award and an expense paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla., a $500 gift certificate from the Southern States cooperative and the choice of either $1,000 in PhytoGen cottonseed, or a $500 donation to a designated charity on behalf of our newest sponsor, Dow Agrosciences.

He is now eligible for the $15,000 that will go to the overall winner. Other prizes for the overall winner include the use of a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year from Massey Ferguson North America, another $500 gift certificate from the Southern States cooperative and the choice of either another $1,000 in PhytoGen cottonseed, or a second $500 donation to a designated charity on behalf of our newest sponsor, Dow Agrosciences.

Swisher International, through its Swisher Sweets cigar brand, and the Sunbelt Expo are sponsoring the Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards for the 23rd consecutive year. Swisher has contributed some $884,000 in cash awards and other honors to southeastern farmers since the award was initiated in 1990.

Long is the sixth state winner from Arkansas. The award was opened to Arkansas farmers for competition during 2007, and the state winner that year was Michael G. Simon of Conway. Other Arkansas winners include Brian Kirksey of Amity who was selected as the overall winner in 2008, Orelan Johnson of England who was state winner in 2009, Bill Haak of Gentry who was state winner in 2010 and Michael Oxner of Searcy, 2011. 

Long’s farm, along with the farms of the other nine state finalists, will be visited by a distinguished panel of judges during the week of Aug. 5-10.

The judges for this year include Charles Snipes, a retired Mississippi Extension weed scientist who is president and research scientist with Stoneville R&D, Inc., from Greenville, Miss.; John McKissick, longtime University of Georgia Extension ag economist from Athens, Ga.; and the aforementioned farmer Brian Kirksey of Amity, Ark., who was the overall winner in 2008.