“We market bred females through the Buckingham Cattlemen’s Association annual Bred Heifer Sale,” says Jones. These females meet Virginia Premium Assured Heifer (VAPAH) standards with benchmarks for age, frame score, condition, muscling, sire EPD’s, service sire EPD’s, vaccinations, insecticides, pelvic measurements and reproductive tract scoring.

He has received grants from Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission funds to help build a hay storage barn and has applied for similar funding to improve his cattle handling and hay feeding equipment.

Jones participates in a bulk order mineral program. The minerals are tailored for area soil conditions. As treasurer of the Buckingham Cattlemen’s Association, his wife Brenda organizes the mineral buying.

“We ask suppliers to submit sealed bids,” says Brenda. “The BCA board selects the low-cost supplier with the superior product to deliver our minerals to a central location where the farmers pick them up.”

Group buying saves about $5 for each 50-pound bag of minerals purchased.

Since Lin’s cattle are located on different farms, he has three separate covered cattle handling facilities. “Built properly, these facilities will last a lifetime, and reduce stress on both the cattle and the people working the cattle,” he says. If necessary, Lin and Brenda can treat their cattle with little or no additional labor.

For the working facility he uses most, Jones installed fencing made from highway guardrails. “The guardrails have been a solid investment, and the cattle will not challenge them,” he adds.

In 2013, Jones received the Virginia Beef Improvement Federation’s Commercial Producer of the Year award. He has been an Extension and 4-H volunteer.

For the Buckingham Cattlemen’s Association, he has served on the board of directors, the marketing committee, the heifer sale committee and the feeder calf sale committee. He also serves on the board of the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association.

As assistant farm manager, Brenda keeps cattle records and schedules health care. In the Buckingham Cattlemen’s Association, she has served on the board as treasurer. She is also an Extension and 4-H volunteer. Lin’s mother, Kathleen Bryant Jones, handles bookkeeping for Berk-Mar Farm.

Lin and Brenda have two adult children, Kelly Jones Snoddy and Berkley Jones. They grew up working on the farm. Kelly works as a conservation specialist for the Peter Francisco Soil & Water Conservation District. Berkley helps on the farm during hay season and harvests timber for local landowners.

Robert “Bobby” Grisso, associate director of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, is state coordinator of the Farmer of the Year awards. Jennifer Ligon, Buckingham County Extension agent, nominated Jones for the award. “It is unusual for producers to agree on production practices and market their cattle together so well,” says Ligon.