What is in this article?:
- Jim Sidebottom: Sunbelt Farmer of the Year for Kentucky
- Bought acreage in 1981
- Three adult children
• As a result of his success as a dairy farmer, Sidebottom has been selected as the Kentucky state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.
Bought acreage in 1981
In 1981, he bought 203 acres, beef cows, some farm implements and started farming full time. A severe drought forced him to make changes. “Milking cows was not my original plan,” he says, “but after the drought, milking seemed to be the only way I could hang on to the farm. So in 1985, we traded our beef herd for 16 Holsteins.”
Early on, access to capital held him back, but he persevered and expanded. In the beginning, he pastured his cows and milked in a small six-cow parlor. Today, he runs a confinement dairy and milks 20 cows at a time in a modern parallel parlor.
Sidebottom built a new shed and equipped it with chutes used during hoof trimming and breeding. As cow numbers increased, he added grain bins and now has a 28,000-bushel storage capacity. He built hay barns to preserve forage quality. He built a commodity shed to store bulk feeds and minerals.
And he built new barns that keep cows clean. He produces safe, high quality milk as indicated by tests for somatic cell counts and preliminary incubation counts — measures of milk bacterial contamination.
This expansion is ongoing. “Our family has worked hard to build our operation,” he says. “Our next expansion will call for a new freestall barn that will let us use our existing barns to house our heifers.”
He aims to double his herd size within five years. To do this, he’ll need to add to the land he farms. He’ll need this land to grow his feeds and to have a place for safe waste disposal. Then, as he increases herd size and overall milk production, he hopes to welcome members of the third generation of his family, if they want to live and work on the farm.
“I learned back in the Army that if you want to make a difference, you’ve got to get involved,” he says.
Sidebottom has been an active leader in Farm Bureau. He has served on the Green County Farm Bureau’s board and seven of its committees. At the state level, he has supported Farm Bureau’s state and national legislative efforts, and has served on several state committees.
He has also been an agricultural advisor to congressmen. He served as a board member for the local Southern States cooperative. He is on an advisory board for Forcht Bank. He chairs the Green County Soil Conservation District and has been a district supervisor since 1994. Earlier this year, he was named Green County Agriculturist of the Year.
He has served as Lake Cumberland Extension Area president. On the state level, he has served as president of Kentucky’s Ag Advancement Council and Dairy Development Council. He serves on the Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and on a state environmental cost share committee. He has also served on the Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Administrative Council.
He and his wife Ona are active members of Summersville Baptist Church. Each has been given the honorary title of Kentucky Colonel.
On the farm, Ona is responsible for raising the dairy calves and managing the farm records. She had never milked cows before her husband bought his first Holsteins. “We spent six hours milking those cows that first night,” she recalls. “Those cows just didn’t want to go into that parlor.”
Ona is also a strong leader. On the local level she has been active in Homemakers Club, Master Farm Homemakers, Green County Historical Society, the Democratic Party, 4-H volunteer work, Summersville Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization, Green County Extension Council, Green County Extension District Board, Lake Cumberland Area Extension Council, Green County Farm Bureau Women, Green County Public Library Board and Green County Genealogy Society.
On the state level, Ona is a member and president of the Kentucky Master Farm Homemakers Guild. She was a Lake Cumberland Master Farm Homemaker in 2005, and she is on the board of the Kentucky Extension Homemakers Association. She also serves as secretary of the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts Auxiliary.