By Faith Peppers
University of Georgia
“Georgia farmers are the original stewards of the land,” said Perdue, during a ceremony to kick off National Agriculture Awareness Week in Atlanta March 17. “My father used to always tell me that we should leave the land better than we found it. That’s just what these farmers do.”
Hogan competed against four other district winners, who were saluted for their extraordinary efforts to protect and preserve the environment on their farms.
Along with his partner and son, Richard, Hogan grows wheat, oats, peanuts, cotton and soybeans near Dexter, Ga. They manage pasture and timber and raise Black Angus, Limousine and Belgian Blue cows. They raise quarter and paint horses, too, for show and sell. They want to protect it all and keep it as pristine as they can for the future, Hogan said.
On their 950-acre farm, they use conservation tillage to grow their crops and use chicken litter to fertilize them. Hogan says the litter is more than worth the cost of getting it hauled to his farm.
To protect the soil where his livestock walk the most, Hogan implements strategies to protect it and keep it from eroding. And he does whatever he can to protect both land and water by participating in environmental quality, wildlife habitat, forestland enhancement and other conservation programs. He plans to continue to find ways to conserve water, while finding new and better ways to protect the streams and wetlands that flow through his land.
“This was an incredibly close competition,” said Duren Bell, the University of Georgia Extension state agricultural and natural resources coordinator. “[Hogan] embodied the whole picture from his forestry program to conservation tillage in row crops and his protective practices in his livestock operation.”
Hogan also participates in community activities that “allow him the opportunity to influence others in the community to use good environmental practices,” said Bell, who was a judge for the award.
The district winners were Marty McLendon of Leary, Bud Butcher of Senoia, Jeff Deen of Baxley, and Ted Hughes of Comer.
“We are here to celebrate Georgia farmers,” Perdue said. “Farmers are leaders in technology and innovation, their love of country, love of land, love of the soil and service to others.”
Perdue told the crowd that just looking around the room gave him hope for Georgia’s future. “Today in agriculture, we are growing energy and we are growing pharmaceuticals. Our young people are in an enviable spot with a bright future ahead in agriculture.”
(Faith Peppers is the director of public affairs with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)