Each year, Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) recognizes an individual whose efforts not only strengthen the state’s agriculture industry but also demonstrate service and leadership on and off the farm.

With preliminary judging of applicants for the 2012 Farmer of the Year award now complete, KFB has identified the finalists for this prestigious honor: Stephen Bailey of Mercer County and Scott Travis of Spencer County.

Stephen Bailey:
 Bailey, a 38-year farming veteran, raises beef cows and calves, stocker calves, corn, soybeans, alfalfa, mixed hay and wheat on his farm in Harrodsburg.

He began full-time farming immediately after graduating from college, and, over time, has increased the size of his farm from 440 total acres to his current 2,080-acre operation.

Bailey has additionally made conservation practices a top priority for his farm and intentionally diversified what he raises to effectively spread risk while making good use of by-products.

He has been a KFB member all 38 years of his farming career, serving as a Mercer County Farm Bureau Board member for four years and was named Mercer County’s Young Farmer of the Year in 1978.

He also served as a Southern States Cooperative board member for 12 years, including four years as its chairman, is currently the Mercer County Conservation District supervisor and vice-chairman of the Conservation Board of Supervisors, and is active on numerous other local civic and industry-specific organizations.

Scott Travis:
 Travis, a 27-year farming veteran, currently raises beef cattle, tobacco, corn, soybeans, wheat hay, pumpkins and gourds on his farm in Cox’s Creek.

Though he actually started farming at the age of six with his first tobacco crop, Travis pursued farming as a full-time career right after graduating from high school. Since that time he has increased the overall size of his operation from the original 320 acres to its present-day 3,277-acre tract.

In addition to finding new and speedier efficiencies to assist with spring field work, increasing crop yields, and maintaining clean soil and waterways, it became a priority for Travis to take an active role in his community.

He has served in numerous roles on the Spencer County Farm Bureau Board of Directors since 1996, including a term as its president, is presently a member of both the KFB Federation and KFB Insurance StateBoard of Directors, and is Chair of both the KFB Tobacco Advisory Committee and the American Farm Bureau Federation National Tobacco Advisory Committee.

Travis, recipient of the 1996 KFB Outstanding Young Farm Family award with his wife, Robbie, additionally leads and serves in numerous industry-based and civic-oriented organizations on the local, regional, state and national levels.

Judges visited the finalists in late-September to conduct interviews and see their farms in action.

The KFB Farmer of the Year will be announced at the organization’s 2012 state annual meeting in Louisville on Dec. 7, and the winner will receive $1,000 from the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation.

Finalists will 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, Oct. 15-17, 2013.

The state winner will also receive $2,500 from Swisher International, a customized jacket and a $200 gift certificate courtesy of The Williams Dickie Company, and a $500 gift certificate from Southern States Cooperative.

Kentucky’s winner will compete against nine other state winners for the chance to win a $15,000 award from Swisher International and several other sponsor-based prizes.