“We are teaching our children the way of life that has been handed down to us.”

Due to a strong and growing demand for food, Phillip believes he and his children have a great future in farming. “We know how to do it, how to farm,” he adds. 

Andy Guffey with Arkansas Farm Bureau is the state coordinator of the Farmer of the Year award. DeSalvo was nominated for the award by Nelson Ennis, insurance agency manager for Conway County Farm Bureau. Ennis also chairs the Farm Family Committee for Conway County Farm Bureau.

As Arkansas state winner, DeSalvo 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, the choice of either $1,000 in PhytoGen cottonseed or a $500 donation to a designated charity from Dow AgroSciences, and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply.

He is now eligible for the $15,000 cash prize 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 and a Heritage gun safe from Southern States, the choice of either another $1,000 in PhytoGen cottonseed or a second $500 donation to a designated charity from Dow AgroSciences, and a Columbia jacket from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply.

Swisher International, through its Swisher Sweets cigar brand, and the Sunbelt Expo are sponsoring the Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards for the 24th consecutive year. Swisher has contributed some $924,000 in cash awards and other honors to southeastern farmers since the award was initiated in 1990.

Previous Arkansas winners include Michael Simon of Conway, 2007; Brian Kirksey of Amity, 2008; Orelan Johnson of England, 2009; Bill Haak of Gentry, 2010; Michael Oxner of Searcy, 2011; and Heath Long of Tichnor, 2012. 

Arkansas has had one overall winner, Brian Kirksey in 2008.

DeSalvo’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. 12-16.

The judges for this year include John McKissick, longtime University of Georgia Extension ag economist from Athens, Ga.; the aforementioned farmer Brian Kirksey of Amity, Ark., who was the overall winner in 2008; and John Woodruff, retired University of Georgia Extension agronomist from Tifton, Ga., who specialized in soybeans for many years.


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