These farm-related enterprises allowed St. John to vertically integrate his operation and be more competitive by containing input costs.

St. John sponsors a local soccer team and sits on the board of Palms Medical Group. He has been active in the New York Dairy Herd Improvement Association and was named Outstanding Young Farmer in New York by the Junior Chamber of Commerce.

He currently sits on the board of Farm Credit of Florida and Southeast Milk Inc. He is also on Florida Farm Bureau’s Dairy Advisory Committee and is on an advisory committee for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

He has also spoken on dairy farming to groups throughout the U.S. and in Brazil.

St. John’s wife Marcia works as chief financial officer for Chiefland Farm Supply and assists with paying bills and handling finances for the dairy farms. She also sits on the board of the College of Central Florida Foundation.

They’ve been married 14 years and have four daughters from previous marriages. Ron’s daughters include Jan who returned to the dairy after a 12-year career in farm lending, Christine who is an elementary school teacher in Kansas and Betsy who owns the roofing and truss business with her husband in Trenton, Fla. Marcia’s daughter Brooke is a senior at Florida State University.

“I believe in expansion using the latest technology,” says St. John. “We plan to expand our grazing dairies and capitalize on our competitive advantage with year-round grass.”

Joshua Craft with Florida Farm Bureau is state coordinator for the Farmer of the Year awards. Joe Siegmeister, assistant director of field services with Florida Farm Bureau, nominated St. John for the award.

Siegmeister says, “He is pro-active on environmental issues. The digester is just the latest example. He also avoids the pitfalls that can grow into financial disasters.”

As the Florida winner, St. John will now receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo in Moultrie, Ga., from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla., a jacket and a $200 gift certificate from the Williamson-Dickie Company, and a $500 gift certificate from Southern States. 

He is now eligible for the $15,000 that goes 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, a custom made Canvasback gun safe from Misty Morn Safe Co., and another $500 gift certificate from the Southern States cooperative.

Also, Williamson-Dickie will provide another jacket, a $500 gift certificate and $500 in cash to the overall winner.