by Darryal Ray
Alabama’s top farmers can win cash and prizes worth more than $10,000 in the 2006 Alabama Farm of Distinction competition, a Farm-City program which seeks to identify the best farms in the state.
Deep South Tractor of Samsom and Andalusia this year joins Wire Road Tractor in Auburn, Lawn & Leisure in Montgomery and Henry Farm Center with stores in Abbeville, Brundidge and Dothan in donating a new John Deere Gator CX valued at $5,200 to the 2006 Alabama Farm of Distinction.
In addition, Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC) will present a $1,000 gift certificate to the Alabama Farm of Distinction winner redeemable at any of its member Quality Co-op stores. AFC also will present each of the other five state finalists with a $250 gift certificate.
The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Health will award the state winner an engraved, mahogany farm sign valued at more than $1,300. The Alabama winner also will receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense-paid trip to the Sunbelt Ag Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla.
The state winner will represent Alabama at the Sunbelt Expo, Oct. 17-19, in the Southeastern Farmer of the Year competition in Moultrie, Ga. The Sunbelt winner will receive $14,000 plus several prizes.
The deadline for applications is Feb. 24. A panel of judges will interview farmers from five geographic regions along with one at-large contestant later this year. These six farms will then compete for the state title.
Farms will be judged on environmental stewardship, overall appearance, accomplishments, efficiency and leadership of the farm owner. Any size farm is eligible for the competition. The winner will be announced during a ceremony April 19 in Birmingham.
"This competition serves to recognize the cream of the crop in Alabama agriculture," said J. Paul Till, chairman of the Alabama Farm-City Committee. "These are farmers who, through hard work, good conservation and management and innovation, have excelled. In offering these prizes, the sponsors are showing that they also recognize the good job they are doing."
Copies of the application for the 2006 Farm of Distinction are available on the Alfa Farmers’ website at www.alfafarmers.org/farm-city
and AFC’s website at www.alafarm.com
The Farm-City Committee of Alabama presents the Farm of Distinction Award annually. Farm-City Week is observed nationally each year the week before Thanksgiving.