Arkansas row crop farmer David Wildy has been selected as the newest judge for the 2019 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards.
Wildy, from Manila, Ark., is a diversified row crop farmer who was the overall winner of the Farmer of the Year award in 2016.
A full time farmer since 1975, Wildy farms more than 12,000 acres. He has been growing cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat, peanuts and potatoes at his farm located in the northeast corner of Arkansas. He also has a small beef cattle herd.
His Wildy Family Farms is a fifth generation farm that was started by David’s grandfather in 1914. Wildy credits the farm’s success to his wife Patty, their four adult children, and other family members who hold key positions on the farm.
Wildy will join two judges who serve on the 2019 three-person judging team. The other judges are beef cattle rancher Cary Lightsey of Lake Wales, Fla., who was the overall winner in 2009 and John McKissick, longtime University of Georgia agricultural economist from Athens, Ga. Lightsey is serving his third year as a judge and is the senior judge on the team this year.
During a week’s time in early August, Lightsey, McKissick and Wildy will be visiting and evaluating the farms of the ten finalists for the award. These state winners come from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
This year’s overall winner will be announced at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show near Moultrie, Ga., on Tuesday, Oct. 15th.
“I am looking forward to being a judge and visiting these premier farming operations in the Southeast,” says Wildy. “I’m sure it will be a great experience to see the tremendous dedication these farmers and their families have for the agricultural industry, and to see how their farming operations have improved and expanded over the years.”
Chip Blalock, director of the Sunbelt Expo, says, “We are honored and pleased to welcome David Wildy to our great team of judges, and we know our state farming winners will benefit from the experience and insight that David will bring as an excellent farmer and judge of our awards.” Blalock notes that Farmer of the Year judges typically serve for three years before rotating off the judging team.
Swisher International, through its Swisher Sweets cigar brand, and the Sunbelt Expo are sponsoring the Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards for the 30th consecutive year. Swisher has contributed some $1,160,000 in cash awards and other honors to southeastern farmers since the award was initiated in 1990.