Scott Travis, a 27-year farming veteran of Spencer County, was honored as the 2012 Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) “Farmer of the Year” during the organization’s 93rd annual meeting in Louisville.

Each year, KFB recognizes an individual whose efforts not only strengthen the state’s agriculture industry but also demonstrate service and leadership both on and off the farm.

Two Kentucky farmers were considered as finalists in this year’s competition. After a careful review of Travis’ detailed nomination form and an on-site visit to his farm, the judging committee agreed that Travis should be honored as the 2012 “Farmer of the Year.”

Finalist Stephen Bailey of Mercer County also had a strong showing and was awarded as this year’s runner-up.

Travis currently raises beef cattle, tobacco, corn, soybeans, wheat hay, pumpkins and gourds on his farm in Cox’s Creek.

Though he actually started farming at the age of six with his first tobacco crop, Travis pursued farming as a full-time career right after graduating from high school.

Since that time he has increased the overall size of his operation from the original 320 acres of rented land to its present-day 3,277 total acres. Travis’ wife, Robbie, and their three children help out as needed, too, making the operation a true family farm.

Over the years Travis has transitioned from running a farrow-to-finish hog operation, to raising large tracts of tobacco, to his current grain farming endeavors. Through all these changes, he has continued to seek out opportunities for developing and growing his operation.

As his farm has grown, Travis has also implemented additional and larger equipment that would increase his efficiencies with spring field work and, ultimately, boost crop yields.

Conservation practices remain one of Travis’ top priorities on the farm. Utilizing no-till farming methods, crop rotation, cover crops and conducting annual maintenance of the waterways on his property, Travis has made a conscious effort to prevent soil erosion and preserve the quality of the water, land and resources around him.

“In everything he does, Scott gives one hundred percent,” commented Scott Williams, president of Spencer County Farm Bureau.

Active in community

Travis has additionally taken an active role in his community. He has served in numerous roles on the Spencer County Farm Bureau Board of Directors since 1996, including a term as its president. He is presently a member of both the KFB Federation and KFB Insurance State Board of Directors, and is Chair of both the KFB Tobacco Advisory Committee and the American Farm Bureau Federation National Tobacco Advisory Committee.

He also currently serves on the Spencer County School Board, as a Spencer County Extension volunteer, and as a member of the Kentucky Tobacco Research Board. Travis, a graduate of KFB’s LEAD class and past recipient of the KFB Outstanding Young Farm Family award with his wife, Robbie, additionally leads and serves in numerous other industry-based and civic-oriented organizations on the local, regional, state and national levels.

“Scott is one of the hardest working, truthful young men I know,” said George Henderman, president of Bullitt County Farm Bureau. “He is a pillar of the community.”

Judges visited the “Farmer of the Year” finalists during the fall to conduct interviews and see each farm firsthand. The Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation awarded Travis with a $1,000 prize for being named “Farmer of the Year,” and the other finalist, Bailey, received $250 as runner-up.

In addition to the statewide recognition and prizes, Travis will represent Kentucky in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest, the South’s most prestigious agricultural award, in Moultrie, Ga., Oct.15-17, 2013. He will also receive $2,500 from Swisher International and a $500 gift certificate from Southern States Cooperative.

Travis will compete against nine other state winners for the chance to win a $15,000 award from Swisher International and several other sponsor-based prizes.

Stephen Bailey

Bailey, a 38-year farming veteran, raises beef cows and calves, stocker calves, corn, soybeans, alfalfa, mixed hay and wheat on his farm in Harrodsburg.

He began full-time farming immediately after graduating from college, and, over time, has increased the size of his farm from 440 total acres to his current 2,080-acre operation.

Bailey has additionally made conservation practices a top priority for his farm and intentionally diversified what he raises to effectively spread risk while making good use of by-products. He has been a KFB member all 38 years of his farming career, serving as a Mercer County Farm Bureau Board member for four years and was named Mercer County’s Young Farmer of the Year in 1978.

He also served as a Southern States Cooperative board member for 12 years, including four years as its Chairman, is currently the Mercer County Conservation District Supervisor and Vice Chairman of the Conservation Board of Supervisors, and is active on numerous other local civic and industry-specific organizations.

With nearly 500,000 member families statewide, Kentucky Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general farm organization. Approximately 1,700 members attended KFB’s 93rd annual meeting, December 5-8, to recognize this year’s individual and organizational achievements as well as adopt policy for 2013.