Virginia Cooperative Extension has selected Tim Sutphin of Dublin, Va., as the Virginia Farmer of the Year, an award that applauds individual contributions to the commonwealth’s agricultural industry.

The owner of a 2,270-acre cattle, sheep, and horse farm in Southwest Virginia, Sutphin was recognized by Extension Director Mark McCann at the Virginia State Fair in Richmond, Va., on Friday, Oct. 3.

“Tim Sutphin and his family are true representatives of excellence in Virginia agriculture,” said Jim Riddell, assistant director of agriculture and natural resources for Extension. “He stands for what’s best about agriculture and the hard work and dedication that goes into the agriculture industry in Virginia.”

Sutphin’s Hillwinds Farm in Dublin encompasses 1,123 acres of rented land and 1,047 acres of owned land. He runs a commercial cow-calf operation with 850 bred cows and heifers and raises about 480 head of stocker cattle for backgrounding, the practice of raising young animals on pasture before placing them on a feedlot. In addition, he operates a bull test station where he feeds about 230 purebred bulls each year. Sutphin and his family also raise about 120 head of commercial ewes and have a small herd of horses.

His cattle operations rely on a diverse mix of forages and two key technologies designed to improve cowherd genetics and add value to calves: artificial insemination and estrous synchronization. The latter involves managing the hormones of heifers and cows to regulate their breeding cycles, an approach that has allowed Sutphin to “gain an edge in the marketplace while tightening the calving season,” he said.

“To be successful in the cattle industry, your cost of production must be lower than most producers and you must add value to your cattle,” Sutphin said. “I decided I could make a living in the mainstream of the cattle industry using practical and innovative practices.”

An active member of a number of beef organizations, Sutphin supports the New River Valley Fair and the FFA and is a 4-H volunteer and a member of the Pulaski County Farm Bureau. The Virginia Beef Cattle Improvement Association twice named him as the Commercial Cattleman of the Year.

In accepting the award, Sutphin joins not only the ranks of Virginia farmers who have excelled in agriculture through the years but also the short list of farmers in the running for selection as the Southeastern Farmer of the Year.

“Extension agents across the commonwealth nominate individuals for the state award,” Riddell said. “We have a committee that reviews the nominations at the state level and then submits our final selection for consideration as Southeastern Farmer of the Year.”

Extension has nominated individuals for the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year since the award’s inception in 1990. Sutphin is one of nine state finalists for this award. Contest judges will announce the overall winner at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga., on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Virginia Cooperative Extension brings the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, to the people of the commonwealth. Through a system of on-campus specialists and locally based agents, it delivers education in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, community viability, and 4-H youth development. With a network of faculty at two universities, 107 county and city offices, 13 agricultural research and Extension centers, and six 4-H educational centers, Virginia Cooperative Extension provides solutions to the problems facing Virginians today.

IMAGE INFORMATION: Tim Sutphin of Dublin, Va. (center) was recognized as the 2008 Virginia Farmer of the Year by Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner, Todd Haymore (left) and Virginia Cooperative Extension Director, Mark McCann (right) at the State Fair of Virginia on Oct. 3.

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