Mike Bach of Bath County Named 2016 Kentucky Farm Bureau Farmer of the YearPosted on Nov 30, 2016
Louisville, KY (December 2, 2016) – Mike Bach of Bath County was honored as the 2016 Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) “Farmer of the Year” during the organization’s 97th annual meeting in Louisville.
Each year, KFB recognizes an individual whose efforts not only strengthen the state’s agriculture industry but also demonstrates service and leadership both on and off the farm.
Three Kentucky farmers were selected as finalists in this year’s competition – Bach, Darren Luttrell of Ohio County and Gary Cecil of Daviess County. After a careful review of each finalist’s nomination form and an on-site visit to their farms in October, the judging committee selected Bach as KFB’s 2016 “Farmer of the Year.”
Over the past 37 years, Bach’s farming operation has grown exponentially to the more than 2,500 acre operation it is today. The business consists of hay and corn silage along with 170 beef cattle, a cow/calf herd, corn, soybeans and hemp.
Bach markets the hay and silage through the cow/calf operation and markets his calves in a number of ways including through direct feedlot sales and truck loads through local stockyards. Bach also sells bred heifers.
In addition, Bach and his wife Mary raise fruits and vegetables, namely peaches and asparagus. Through selling these items at farmers’ markets, he has been able to better educate consumers about food production. Bach doesn’t have any immediate plans to expand the farming operation, which has been a no-till farm for 15 years, but would like to see his son Steven, who has a nearby grain operation, continue the family tradition.
Bach said while time management and qualified help are problems, with the help of bigger equipment with better technology the operation has overcome those obstacles.
“We may work a little longer in the day but we sleep a lot better at night,” he said.
Bach is very active in community and church activities. He has served as the president of the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association; serves as the Bath County Extension Foundation Board Vice President; has been on the Bath County Farm Bureau Board for more than 20 years; serves on the Kentucky Farm Bureau Forage Advisory Committee; serves on the Bath County Farm Bureau Executive Committee; and is a State 4-H Foundation Board member.
Bach was also instrumental in getting the Agricultural Marketing Center in Bath County established and was recently elected to the Bath County Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Farmer of the Year Finalist, Darren Luttrell
Since 1982, Darren Luttrell has been a part of the family farming operation and has seen production acres double from 1,800 to 3,600 consisting of corn and soybeans. He also operates eight broiler houses and raises 380 head of beef cattle.
In addition, he has also been associated with a leading agriculture technology company as a dealer for the last 16 years. While this part of his overall farming experience is not a major revenue contributor, Luttrell said it has allowed him to know and utilize their technology quickly and work with some of the best and most progressive farmers in the area.
The Luttrell operation is a true family farm. His two sons are both involved full-time on the farm primarily focusing on the grain and cattle operations while wife Debbie helps him with the poultry business.
Luttrell has used different precision farming tools over the years to help reduce input costs and has always been willing to try new farming practices. He would like to expand his grain system and grow more acres in the future. He also plans to give his sons more responsibility in the decision making process on the farm.
“The key to our future is a well-executed succession plan that will ensure a successful operation for many years to come,” said Luttrell.
He has been active in the Ohio County Farm Bureau, the local Chamber of Commerce, his church and the local school system where he is known as “Farmer Luttrell” and has helped teach children about life on the farm.
Farmer of the Year Finalist, Gary Cecil
Gary Cecil began his farming operation 41 years ago with 10 rented acres of tobacco. Today that number has grown to more than 1,000 acres of tobacco, grain and produce. In fact, Cecil is the largest commercial watermelon grower in Kentucky with 400 acres that produce 1,140 boxes per acre. He contracts with three companies for the watermelons as well as three tobacco companies for his burley crop of 228 acres.
Additionally, Cecil grows 370 acres of a variety of vegetables and grains including: cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins, corn and wheat. The farm also supplies many of the local schools with fresh produce during the spring and fall months.
His daughter Suzanne handles much of the produce distribution and local farmers’ market sales and currently has 200 customers in her Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. The couple’s other daughter, Katie, is also beginning to work in the operation as she transitions back to the farm.
Cecil’s son partners in the tobacco, watermelon and vegetable sides of the business along with a side business called Cecil’s Spreader Service in which they spread fertilizer for farms in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.
His wife Imelda is a nurse, something Cecil credits as having been helpful with an outside income and insurance in the early farming years.
“We intend to create more opportunities for local food access in our region,” said Cecil. “We have been working on organic production methods for the past three years and are seeing that we will continue to expand this part of our operation, as the consumers are demanding it.”
Cecil is very active in his community, having served on Farm Bureau boards, his church, the Soil Conservation Board and local Chamber of Commerce.
Kentucky Farm Bureau Farmer of the Year
Judges met in mid-October to conduct interviews with the finalists and visit the farms. The “Farmer of the Year” recipient will be announced at KFB’s 2016 state annual meeting in Louisville on December 1 and will receive $1,000 from the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation. All three finalists will be given a KFB jacket, and the runners up will each receive $250 from the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation.
In addition to the statewide recognition and prizes, KFB’s “Farmer of the Year” winner will represent Kentucky in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern “Farmer of the Year” contest, the South’s most prestigious agricultural award, in Moultrie, Georgia, October 17-19, 2017. Last year’s winner received a $15,000 cash award plus $2,500 as a state winner from Swisher International, the use of a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year from Massey Ferguson North America, a $500 gift certificate from the Southern States cooperative and a Columbia jacket from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply.