Billy Bain is a third generation Virginia farmer who has seen the good and the bad for peanuts in his state.

Through ups and downs of the crop, Bain has remained steadfast in his stewardship of the land and for giving back to agriculture more than he takes from it.

One look at the awards that line the bookshelf behind his desk in the office of his 150-plus year old, well-restored Dinwiddie, Va., farmhouse is evidence enough that Bain is a successful farmer.

Even a brief conversation is evidence that he’s much more than that.

After living through the good times and the bad times of the state’s peanut industry, he’s optimistic some of the good times will return.

“I remember back when we used to shock peanuts on the stick. I used to love to hop off the school bus and help my father with the peanuts,” he recalls. As far back as I can remember, we grew peanuts on this farm, he adds.

When he took over the farm full time back in 1968, there was a 40 acre peanut allotment on his 200 acre farming operation. Now, he runs a diversified 3,500 acre farming operation that includes cotton, grain crops, beef cattle and peanuts.

The cropping configuration has changed over the years, but peanuts have always been a part of it.

“I’ve farmed peanuts under the acreage control system, under the quota system and under the current free market system. I feel like the first two systems were the best for all involved, including the federal government,” Bain says.

“Back in the ‘good ole days’, quality was the issue with Virginia-Carolina peanuts. Shellers wanted quality peanuts, and we have always been able to grow high quality Virginia type peanuts. Today, it seems, as long is its peanuts and its edible is the main issue. Virginia-Carolina growers still thrive on quality, because it carried us for so many years, Bain says.