“All our income comes from the farm,” adds Porter. “We hope to expand our cattle herd and add two more pullet houses. We farm responsibly and have been good stewards of our natural resources. We work very hard and I feel blessed to have accomplished the goals I set out to achieve.”

Ken Powell with North Carolina Farm Bureau is state coordinator of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. Karen McKnight, a Farm Bureau district field representative, nominated Porter for the award.

McKnight admires his farm’s efficiency and aesthetic appearance. She says he has hosted local, state, national and international visitors, and he often advises elected leaders on farm issues. “He has a rare combination of skill, knowledge, passion and heart,” she adds.

As the North Carolina state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo award, Porter will now receive a $2.500 cash award and an expense paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo 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 also 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, 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.

Swisher International, through its Swisher Sweets cigar brand, and the Sunbelt Expo are sponsoring the Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards for the 22nd consecutive year. Swisher has contributed some $844,000 in cash awards and other honors to southeastern farmers since the award was initiated in 1990.

Previous state winners from North Carolina include John Vollmer of Bunn, 1990; Kenneth Jones of Pink Hill, 1991; John Howard, Jr. of Deep Run, 1992; Carlyle Ferguson of Waynesville, 1993; Dick Tunnell of Swan Quarter, 1994; Allan Lee Baucom of Monroe, 1995; Scott Whitford of Grantsboro, 1996; Williams Covington, Sr. of Mebane, 1997; Phil McLain of Statesville, 1998; Earl Hendrix of Raeford, 1999; Reid Gray of Statesville, 2000; Rusty Cox of Monroe, 2001; Craven Register of Clinton, 2002; Frank Howey, Jr. of Monroe, 2003; Eddie Johnson of Elkin, 2004; Danny McConnell of Hendersonville, 2005; Tommy Porter of Concord, 2006; Bill Cameron of Raeford, 2007; V. Mac Baldwin of Yanceyville, 2008; Fred Pittillo of Hendersonville, 2009; and Bo Stone of Rowland, 2010.

North Carolina has had two overall winners with Eddie Johnson of Elkin being selected as the Southeastern Farmer of the Year in 2004 and Bill Cameron of Raeford being named in 2007.

Porter’s farm, along with the farms of the other eight state finalists, will be visited by a distinguished panel of judges during the week of Aug. 1-5.

The judges for this year include Jim Bone, a retired manager of field development for DuPont Crop Protection from Valdosta, Ga.; Charles Snipes, a retired Mississippi Extension weed scientist who is president and research scientist with Stoneville R&D, Inc., from Greenville, Miss.; and John McKissick, longtime University of Georgia Extension ag economist from Athens, Ga.