Michael G. Simon of Conway, Ark., a versatile farmer with an emphasis on dairy cattle, has been selected as the 2007 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year for Arkansas.

Simon also has the distinction of being the first Southeastern Farmer of the Year from Arkansas as the state became the 10th state competing for the most prestigious award in agriculture this year.

“It’s quite an honor to be selected as the first winner from Arkansas,” says Simon. “Agriculture is Arkansas’ No. 1 industry and I’m very privileged to have been selected.”

In 1969, Simon launched his own operation and has guided it to one of the most versatile in Arkansas and has led to his selection as the 2007 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year for Arkansas. He was selected for the honor in judging conducted by the Arkansas Farm Bureau and was nominated by William Dodgen.

The dairy operation of the Simon farm includes 112 milking cows with an annual production of more than 2.4 million gallons. There are also 85 dairy Heifers and 86 dairy calves (steers and heifers).

His major crops include 200 acres of corn silage (18 tons per acre), 150 acres of corn for grain (125 bushels per acre), 110 acres of hay (4 tons per acre), 225 acres of wheat (25 bushels per acre) and 59 acres of soybeans (25 bushels per acre).

One of the first problems he had to overcome was equipment. “There was very little equipment when we bought the farm,” says Simon. “We had to purchase a lot and had one of the first round hay balers in the county.”

Simon and his wife Mary Jo have seven grown children. Tim (35) is a medical doctor in Monticello, Greg (34) is a dentist in Conway, Jeremy (29) is a dentist in Alma, Nick (27) is in construction in Kansas, while Frederic (36), Matt (33) and Jason (31) work on the farm.

“No good farm or business is run by one man,” says Simon. “We are very fortunate to have a good set up with three of our sons working with us.”