The McClellans have three adult sons and all are involved in the family businesses. Leon manages the dairy farm. Bryan is the distribution manager for the processing plant and insures that delivery trucks reach Florida schools in a timely manner. Daniel is the shipping manager at the processing plant and oversees shipments to out-of-state customers. Daniel’s wife Andrea manages the plant’s office and is Dale’s executive assistant.

Joshua Craft with Florida Farm Bureau is the state coordinator of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. Ray Crawford, recently retired assistant director of field services with Florida Farm Bureau, nominated McClellan for the award.

“Dale is a down-to-earth, super guy and worthy of this award,” says Crawford. “I admire his leadership in Farm Bureau, how he started his processing plant, how he and another guy started the milk marketing co-op and how he operates his farm.”

As the Florida state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo award, McClellan will now receive a $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.

Previous state winners from Florida include: Ernie Nunez of Dade City, 1990; Ernie Nunez of Dade City, 1991; Wayne Wiggins of Plant City, 1992; Leroy Baldwin of Ocala, 1993; Billy Long of Apopka, 1994; Richard Barber of Ocala, 1995; Al Bellotto of Lakeland, 1996; Rex Clonts of Apopka, 1997; John Hoblick of DeLeon Springs, 1998; Doug Holmberg of Valrico, 1999; Damon Deas of Jennings, 2000; Gene Batson of Mount Dora, 2001; William Putnam of Alturas, 2002; Sonny Williamson of Okeechobee, 2003; Dale Sauls of Anthony, 2004; Louis “Red” Larson of Okeechobee, 2005; Damon Deas of Jennings, 2006; Alto “Bud” Adams of Ft. Pierce, 2007; Randy Strode of Longwood, 2008; Cary Lightsey of Lake Wales, 2009;  John Hundley of North Palm Beach, 2010; and Ron St. John of Trenton, 2011.

Florida has had six overall winners: Ernie Nunez of Dade City, 1991; Leroy Baldwin of Ocala, 1993; Rex Clonts of Apopka, 1997; Doug Holmberg of Valrico, 1999; Louis “Red” Larson of Okeechobee, 2005; and Cary Lightsey of Lake Wales, 2009.

A distinguished panel of judges will visit McClellan’s farm, along with the farms of the other nine state finalists, 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, a longtime University of Georgia Extension ag economist from Athens, Ga., and farmer Brian Kirksey of Amity, Ark., who was selected as the overall winner in 2008.