First-generation farmer, FFA champion is 2017 Southeast Farmer of Year

First-generation farmer, FFA champion is 2017 Southeast Farmer of Year

In eighth grade, Robert Mills, Jr., told his parents his dream was to become a farmer. His parents said that’d be a tough road to walk. The family had no land, capital or equipment and lived in a suburb.

On Oct. 17, the first-generation Virginia farmer held the 2017 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award in his hand and proclaimed the FFA creed to the more than 600 people attending the opening-day luncheon at the 40th anniversary Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga.

That FFA creed “was the first words I heard when I entered my eight-grade agricultural class, coming from a suburb outside of Danville, Va., who had never had experience in agriculture. Those words inspired me to become an American farmer,” he said, “one of the proudest occupations you could ever have.”

With the FFA creed in his heart and a newfound fire in his belly, Mills took to fighting the long odds and slowly and steadily inched toward his dream. He started turning FFA projects into bigger ventures, and at 15 bought a used Ford tractor with a line of credit from the bank his mother worked at.

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Technology grows to help agriculture in Southern Virginia

Technology grows to help agriculture in Southern Virginia

Local farmers soon will see new technology specifically designed for agriculture, thanks to two separate entities.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension was granted $104,000 from the Tobacco Commission for a “SOVA Agribusiness Information Technology Program.” The program hopes to increase productivity on farms by incorporating information technology.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville is working with technology for agriculture, but its focus is more research-based.

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