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.