Farmers get their chance to shine

Farmers rarely get their due, especially when it comes to public recognition. Sure, the popular press will search out a grower or two whenever a natural disaster like a drought or flood occurs. But for the most part, farmers toil in obscurity, a real irony considering the significance of their life's work.

Recently, during the Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Panama City, those fortunate enough to attend got the opportunity to meet and to hear from three of the best farmers in the world – the 2010 Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award winners. Recipients of this year’s awards include Rusty Strickland of Wellington, Texas; Al Sudderth of Dawson, Ga.; and Richard Rentz of Branchville, S.C., each representing a different growing region with unique production challenges. The trait shared by all three men – and the reason they were selected for this particular honor – is that they achieved profitability, no small feat in agriculture today. Even more impressive is that they achieved this lofty status based on their entire peanut operations and not just on one selected plot or field.

Farm Press has been presenting this award for 11 years now, and someone invariably asks me if we’re afraid we might eventually exhaust the number of worthy growers. My answer is an emphatic “No.” Each class of winners has been a healthy mix of youth and experience, a reassurance that the future of farming is in good hands, and that potential award nominees are in ample supply. Our winners have all been humble and even resistant to some degree to acknowledge their accomplishments in such a public forum. But once they’re on stage, their eloquence and passion for what they’re doing becomes evident, and it’s more than a little awe-inspiring.

If you think you have the right stuff to be a Peanut Profitability winner for 2011, based on this year’s production, please go to our nomination form at At season’s end, fill out the form and send it in. In addition to receiving a prestigious award, if chosen, you’ll also enjoy a trip to the beach – not bad for a few minutes’ work.

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