Lin Jones named 2013 Virginia Farmer of the Year
Virginia Cooperative Extension recognized Berkley Linwood "Lin" Jones of New Canton, Va., as Virginia Farmer of the Year at the State Fair of Virginia on Oct. 2. The award applauds individual contributions to the commonwealth’s agricultural industry.
A farmer for 33 years, Jones operates Berk-Mar Farm primarily as a beef producer with a herd of 200 Angus-Gelbvieh cross cows. His work in improving beef genetics, saving money on mineral feed supplements, and using cooperative, value-added marketing of beef calves has gained nationwide attention while adding countless dollars to the value of cattle sold from his farm and other beef farms in Buckingham County.
Jones markets his cattle through the Buckingham Cattlemen’s Association fall feeder calf sale, which requires that calves qualify by undergoing a strict vaccination program that exceeds requirements for Virginia’s Quality Assured feeder calves.
"We are also certified in Beef Quality Assurance, and this conveys to buyers that our cattle are handled under optimum conditions," explained Jones. "We have received positive feedback on the benefits of this program. Buyers don’t have to treat these calves for illness while feeding them."
Each year, Jones and other producers from the association visit Pennsylvania feedlots where their calves are finished. "These trips have shown that our vaccination program consistently produces healthy calves that perform well in feedlots," he added.
As the Virginia winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Award, Jones will receive a $2,500 cash award; an all-expense-paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo held in Moultrie, Ga., from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla.; a $500 gift certificate from Southern States Cooperative; the choice of either $1,000 in PhytoGen cottonseed or a $500 donation to a designated charity from Dow AgroSciences; and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply.
In accepting the award, Jones joins the ranks of Virginia farmers who have excelled in agriculture through the years. He represented the commonwealth in the 2013 competition for Southeastern Farmer of the Year, won by the farmer representing South Carolina.
Extension has nominated individuals for Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year since the award’s inception in 1990.
"It is always an honor to recognize a hardworking and dedicated professional like Lin as Virginia Farmer of the Year," said Robert Grisso, associate director of Virginia Cooperative Extension and state coordinator of the Farmer of the Year awards. "He and his family are the reason why agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He has a diverse farm with poultry and hay operations and executes great conservation measures to preserve his operation for generations to come."