Virginia Cooperative Extension has selected William "Billy" Bain of Dinwiddie as the Virginia Farmer of the Year, an award that applauds individual contributions to the commonwealth's agricultural industry.

Virginia Cooperative Extension recognized Bain – who operates a 3,200-acre corn, soybean, wheat, peanut, and Angus cattle farm in Southeast Virginia – at a meeting of the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services on May 21 in Richmond.

“Billy is an avid and untiring supporter and ambassador for agriculture and has served and led many Virginia commodity and crop associations, local agriculture boards, and farm groups in their efforts to strengthen and support agriculture,” said Jim Riddell, assistant director of agriculture and natural resources for Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Virginia agriculture is very proud and excited to have Billy Bain as the Virginia Farmer of the Year.”

Bain is a third-generation farmer who lives on the farm his grandfather, John Wesley Bain. He started operating his family’s farm after his father’s death when he was only 17 years old. The farm was established 150 years ago. Through Bain’s hard work and innovation, his farming operation has grown to encompass 2,940 acres of rented land and 260 acres of owned land. He grows corn, wheat, soybeans, peanuts, and hay. In addition, he has a 60-head herd of Angus beef cattle.

Bain has incorporated strip-till, no-till, and minimum tillage practices throughout his farm operation. In 1996, he was the first Virginia grower to strip-till peanuts, which helps prevent disease, maintain yields, and reduce costs.

“Each year Billy has strived to incorporate new or improved production practices and technology into his farming operation to insure the farm stays profitable,” said Michael Parrish, agriculture and natural resources Extension agent and unit coordinator for Dinwiddie County. “I have worked with Billy for the past 16 years and he has always represented the agriculture industry with a professional and positive image.”

Bain has testified before the U.S. Congress on behalf of Virginia farmers and has given his time, farm, and resources to demonstrate to youth and adults what today’s successful, environmentally sound farming is all about.

In 2008, Bain hosted the Virginia Ag Expo – a showcase of science, technology, and innovation – which drew the largest crowd ever with more than 1,500 participants.

Bain currently represents citizens of the commonwealth with his service on the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He also is a member of Congressman Randy Forbes’ Farmers Advisory Committee, serves on the Safe and Drug Free Council for Dinwiddie County Schools, and is a member of the Concord United Methodist Church. In addition, Bain is a member of several agricultural organizations, including Dinwiddie County Farm Bureau, Virginia Soybean Association, American Corn Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, and the National Association of Farmers Elected Committeemen.

As Virginia Farmer of the Year, Bain will receive a $2,500 cash award, an expense-paid trip to the Oct. 20-22 Sunbelt Expo in Moultrie, Ga., a Dickies custom designed jacket, and $700 in gift certificates from Southern States and Williamson-Dickie companies. In accepting the award, Bain 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 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. Contest judges will announce the overall winner at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga., on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

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