Diversified livestock and crop farming at Meadow View Farms have been profitable over many years for Ray Allan Mackey, a 28-year farming veteran from Elizabethtown, Ky.

Mackey farms 4,535 acres, of which 1,350 acres are rented and 3,185 acres are owned. He is known for growing corn, soybeans, burley tobacco, hogs and beef cattle.

As a result of his success as a diversified farmer, Mackey has been selected as the Kentucky winner of the 2014 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. Mackey joins nine other state winners from the Southeast as finalists for the award. The overall winner will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.

His excellent per acre yields last year included 200 bushels of corn from 2,050 acres, 55 bushels of soybeans from 1,725 acres and 2,850 pounds of burley tobacco from 62 acres. He also operates about 300 acres in hay and pasture. Last year was the first time he harvested 200-bushel corn. His corn crops also include specialty grains, white corn and yellow waxy corn, sold to food processors or for export.

Mackey can irrigate tobacco with a traveling gun but has no other permanent irrigation. He has explored the feasibility of adding new center pivot irrigation, and he believes that it may improve his corn yields.

He raises about 5,000 head of hogs per year in a wean-to-finish operation as an independent producer. He buys 19-day-old pigs and sells the hogs at about 260 pounds each.  He also has 90-100 beef cows and raises weaned and backgrounded calves. He sells his hogs to Tyson Foods, and sells on carcass merit using grade and yield values for cash or forward contracts. He groups his feeder calves according to size and sex and sells them to Midwest feedlots via order buyers through a local auction market.

Mackey farms in Hardin and Larue counties. “We sell most of our corn and soybeans to river terminals and processors to the west or to poultry operations to the south,” he says. He says grains are priced using forward contracts, basis contracts and cash sales. Grain storage of about 500,000 bushels helps him market for higher prices.

He grows his burley tobacco for contract sales to Philip Morris USA. “We produce more than 150,000 pounds of tobacco,” he says. H-2A guest workers from Mexico have been harvesting and handling his tobacco for the past 10 years.