Greenville, South Carolina, was the site for the 61st annual National outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress, the oldest farmer recognition program in the United States. Guest Master of Ceremonies, Orion Samuelson (WGN Radio and “This Week in AgriBusiness” on RFD-TV), announced the four national winners selected from the 10 finalists on Saturday, Feb. 11.
Previous NOYF honorees, members of the Outstanding Farmers of America organization, gathered in Greenville beginning on Feb. 9 to take part in tours of the area, educational forums, and presentations by agricultural leaders including South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers. Other presenters were Jason Brown of Wisdom for Life, country comedian Jerry Carroll, and Jeff Manley, Roch Ranch CEO.
Finalist for the NOYF award were Kevin and Rebekah Hicks, Arkansas; Ben and Julia Anna Boyd, Georgia; Chad and Deb Bremmer, Illinois; Aaron and Jessica Radermacher, Minnesota; Brad and Molly Judson, Mississippi; Tor and Nicole Anderson, New Jersey; Matthew and Stacy Swenson, North Dakota; Jarman and Nancy Sullivan, North Carolina; Dean and Sara Hutto, South Carolina; and Mark and Angie Ulness, Wisconsin.
The NOYF program selected its first group of national winners in 1955. The program is sponsored by John Deere, administered by the Outstanding Farmers of America, and supported by the U.S. jaycees and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.
From the time he was five years old, Jarman Sullivan was determined to be a farmer. After graduating with a degree in Agronomy from NC State University, he began growing corn, soybeans, wheat, tobacco, and timber on the family farm near Faison. A 3,050 head pig nursery and a 2,460 head hog finishing facility are also part of the diversified operation. Following Jarman’s return, the farm expanded its tobacco production and established wildlife habitats on its 350 acres of forest land. Center pivot irrigation was also added, including soil moisture sensors and low pressure drip nozzles. The farm also utilizes terraces to reduce erosion, and soil sampling and yield maps help manage fertilizer application as well as plant population and hybrid selection. Working with seed companies, cooperative extension, and North Carolina State University, the farm has evaluated new products and farming methods to help manage risk factors, primarily due to climate and weather events. Planting newer hybrids and varieties of crops that can withstand heat and drought is a top priority. Growing varieties of tobacco and corn that have varying maturity dates allows harvesting at an optimum time to avoid damage from hurricanes. In 2015, the farm lost 40 bushels per acre in some corn fields due to stink bug damage. Working with NC State on scouting methods and thresholds to determine the growth stage and number of insects to justify treatment, damage was nearly eliminated last year. Other studies on the farm have included the nutrient availability of lagoon sludge, effects of fungicide and insecticide application of soybean yield, nitrogen rates in winter wheat, and maximum yield plots. Jarman’s wife, Nancy, teaches second grade at Hobbton Elementary and handles the technology on the farm, including yield mapping software, pesticide records, and bookkeeping tasks. The couple hopes to improve the farm’s productivity to allow their sons, Will and Thomas, an opportunity to farm in the future if they choose an agricultural career path. Jarman and Nancy are active members of Smith Chapel United Methodist Church in Mount Olive, and Jarman is fire chief of Piney Grove Volunteer Fire Department. Jarman also serves as a member of the Sampson County Cooperative Extension advisory committee and Southern States Cooperative advisory board.