DATE: Thursday, December 21, 2023
CONTACT: Meghan Barwick, Public Information Officer
Telephone: (229) 671-2491
Lowndes County and Chamber Name Large and Small Farmers of the Year at Farmer Appreciation Breakfast
Lowndes County, Georgia: Agriculture is Georgia’s number one industry, and on Thursday, December 7, the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce held its annual local farmer appreciation breakfast and presented the 2023 Farmer of the Year awards, recognizing a large and small farmer from Lowndes or Echols counties. Mike Coggins, Blackwater Cattle Company, was named Large Farmer of the Year, while Jennifer Sumner, Fancy Girl Farms, was named Small Farmer of the Year.
As a third generation farmer, agriculture and farming have been in Mike Coggins's life since birth, with his father and uncles being vegetable farmers. While growing up, his family grew corn, tobacco, soybeans, and hay as well as maintained commercial cattle. Coggins was nominated to be the Large Farmer of the Year for being a visionary in the field of agriculture, driven by an unwavering passion for cultivating excellence in his cattle operation, Blackwater Cattle Company. With a strategic and forward-thinking approach, they have successfully expanded their reach to move cattle across the entire United States.
The Small Farmer of the Year, Jennifer Sumner, owner of Fancy Girl Farms, was recognized for her deep passion and creativity and for embodying the true spirit of a farmer. Located in Hahira, Fancy Girl Farms hosts thousands of visitors each year to her beautiful flower market. In the coming year, Jennifer will be opening a new restaurant with a market pavilion, coffee café, gardens, and beekeeping, continuing her passion for sharing her joy for gardening and growing beautiful flowers with even more visitors.
“Lowndes and Echols Counties have a rich tradition of being large farming communities and providing an abundant supply of food and fiber to not only our community and state but all around the world,” said Bill Slaughter, Lowndes County Board of Commission Chairman. “The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners is proud to recognize our farmers and show appreciation to them.”
The agriculture industry represents more than $338.7 million in annual farm gate value within Lowndes and Echols counties.
The program focused on highlighting the impact of agriculture on Lowndes County and our region, as well as expressing gratitude for all the farmers and producers in the room. At the breakfast, keynote speaker Tyler Harper, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture, addressed the crowd and emphasized the resilience and ingenuity of the agriculture sector in Georgia. He applauded the farmers for their continued commitment to their industry in the wake of trying times such as those caused by Hurricane Idalia.
Over 30 nominations were received for large and small farmers of the year, with some farmers receiving multiple nominations.
“Agriculture plays a tremendous role in our local economy and our daily lives. The Chamber was thrilled to partner with Lowndes County and Georgia Grown to honor our local growers and producers. This event would not have been made possible without the support of our sponsors who recognize the importance of local agriculture- CJB Applied Technologies, Cecil W. Powell Insurance Company, AgGeorgia Farm Credit, and AgriSupply. One of the great strengths of our community is the diversity of our economy and that is especially true for our agriculture sector- from bee-keeping and flowers to satsumas and cotton, we have it all here in Lowndes and Echols Counties” said Christie Moore, President of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce.
This annual appreciation breakfast is held each December to show appreciation to the hard-working farmers in Lowndes and Echols Counties.
For more information on Lowndes County, visit www.lowndescounty.com. For more information on the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, visit www.valdostachamber.com.