Bart Davis doesn’t seek out accolades or praise, but through an impressive dedication to his farm and the industry, honor found him at this year's Georgia Ag Forecast presentation, where he was recognized as 2023 Georgia Farmer of the Year.
University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean Nick Place awarded Davis at the annual outlook event Jan. 27 on the UGA Tifton campus.
“It’s a great honor to be nominated as Georgia’s farmer of the year. I’m not one that’s ever been real big on recognition. I’m sure there’s farmers out there that deserve it more than I do,” Davis told Southeast Ag Net. “But me and my family are honored about it.”
Davis began farming 41 years ago in Doerun, Georgia, following the loss of his mother and father during his senior year of high school. Since then, he has grown the then-500-acre operation to encompass 5,000 acres. Today, he focuses on cotton, peanuts and corn, while also managing a cattle operation.
“Farming’s been my life. As a child, that’s all I ever wanted to do is farm and farm for my father,” said Davis. “Of course, I lost him about the time I was graduating. I have got to farm, got married early in life. Me and my wife together have built a farm; a row crop farm and cattle operation. We’ve got three kids that are really involved. It’s just an honor to do every day what you love to do.”
Davis has made impressive strides in using precision agriculture technology to ensure the efficiency of his farm, including the use of soil moisture sensors and irrigation in the majority of his fields. Because of his work with precision agriculture and wildlife stewardship, Davis was recognized as Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever's Precision Farmer of the Year in 2021.
In addition to the work on his own farm, Davis has given back in various industry leadership roles. He has served on the Georgia Cotton Commission Board for the past 10 years and is the current chairman. He also serves as chairman of the Georgia Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation. Nationally, he serves as a voting delegate to the National Cotton Council and represents Georgia on Southern Cotton Growers and Cotton Incorporated.
His outlook and advice to other farmers for the next year is to adjust operations for inflation and increased costs. He’s hoping for prices and input costs to decrease, but in the meantime, planning is key.
“We’ve got to hope for the best going into this crop and try to figure out which crops will fit you better for your cash flow and your budget this year,” he said.
In the next year, Davis will serve as a representative of Georgia, further showcasing his commitment to industry leadership, environmental stewardship, marketing innovation and the adoption of cutting-edge technologies. He will also represent Georgia as the state nominee for the Swisher/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year.
"The recognition of the Georgia Farmer of the Year allows us the opportunity to celebrate the 'cream of the crop' in Georgia agriculture," said Mark McCann, assistant dean for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. "These farmers are innovators, early adopters and entrepreneurs who are both lifelong learners and environmental stewards."