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• As a result of his success as an organic farm owner and diversified livestock producer, Harris has been selected as the Georgia state winner of the 2013 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.
His plans call for building a pet food processing plant, a lodge to attract agricultural tourists and a vegetable canning plant. “We have purchased and renovated eight of the 39 dwellings in the town of Bluffton,” he explains. “We provide this housing to employees, and hope to eventually restore the village.”
Harris is active in agricultural and community organizations. He was named the Early County Farmer of the Year this year. He has been a trustee at Southwest Georgia Academy. He has been a member of the Pachitla Cattlemen’s Association and Early County Farm Bureau. He was selected for the Bulldog 100 signifying the fastest growing businesses owned by University of Georgia graduates.
The Georgia Conservancy named him Conservationist of the Year in 2012. He received the Les Dames Green Ribbon award in 2012 for his contributions to the food and hospitality industry.
His innovations have also been recognized by the Georgia Restaurant Association. He won the Governor’s Regional Environmental Stewardship Award and has been active in the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership. He served in 2006-2010 as president of Georgia Organics.
In 2008, he received a University of Georgia Agricultural Alumni Award of Excellence. He was a board member for the Georgia Agricultural Leadership Foundation, served as chair of the University of Georgia Agricultural Alumni Association for South Georgia and took part in Leadership Georgia during 1997.
On the national level, Harris has been a director of the American Grassfed Association. He has testified before the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee. He served on the Organic Farm Research Foundation. He was selected Businessman of the Year for Georgia by the Small Business Administration. His farm was also the subject of a case study by the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
Will and his wife Von have three daughters, Jodi, Jenni and Jessi. Jenni is the farm’s marketing manager. Jodi manages agritourism on the farm, and her fiancé John Benoit works as livestock manager at White Oak Pastures. Jessi is a school teacher.
“I was the only child of a successful cattleman, and never wanted to do anything else,” says Harris. “I believe I was born to do this, and everything I have done was preparation for this. I have the best job in the world.”
Steve Brown with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service is the state coordinator for the Farmer of the Year awards. Harris was nominated for the award by Brian Cresswell, county Extension coordinator in Early County, Ga. “Will stands out in how he transformed his farm in such a short time,” says Cresswell.