Oct. 16 was a good day for Kevin Yon. He was picked to be the 2018 Swisher Sweets Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year, and his first grandbaby came home from the hospital to the family farm in South Carolina.
“I believe that farming, despite its hardships and disappointments, is the most honorable and honest way a person can spend their days on earth,” Yon said, during his acceptance speech at the annual opening day luncheon of the Sunbelt Ag Expo. “I believe that farming provides an education for life like no other occupation. It teaches so much about birth, growth and maturity in such a variety of ways."
Yon said his wife, Lydia, deserved the honor more than he did. Together, they farm 4,258 acres in Ridge Spring, S.C., and have what is considered one of the best Angus seedstock herds in the United States. Each year, they sell about 375 bulls and 150 females in two on-farm sales. They also sell cattle in private treaty sales. Their herd includes about 1,200 registered breeding age females, 590 commercial breeding age females and 90 steers and heifers that are fed out. They grow forages, their most important crops, and recently started a pecan orchard and growing soybeans as a rotational crop.
The Yons have three children: Sally, Drake and Corbin, who all work on the farm, along with two of their children’s spouses. The grandbaby was born to Sally.
The Yons retain ownership on calves not sold for breeding, and feed most of them in a Kansas feedlot. They feed out calves on their farm and market them through a processing facility in nearby Augusta, Ga.
Yon’s father and grandfather were sharecroppers who never owned a piece of land, he said. Yon bought his first commercial herd of cattle when he was in high school. Yon, along with other local, state and regional leadership positions, is also the president of the 25,000-member American Angus Association.
Sunbelt Ag Expo contributed information to this article. The show runs Oct. 16-18 this year.