As a result of his success in raising cattle, catfish and row crops, Dallas County farmer Sam Givhan was selected as the Alabama state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. The farmer from Safford, Ala., now joins nine other state winners from the Southeast as finalists for the award, which will be announced Oct. 16 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.
A farmer for 42 years, Givhan said he’s seen his share of changes to agriculture.
“When I was a kid, most of the farming was done with mules,” Givhan recalled. “We had a few old tractors, but the plowing and planting was done by manual labor and animal power. We’ve finally evolved into trying to do as much no-till farming as we can here.”
Last year, Givhan farmed 4,200 acres, including 2,323 acres of rented land and 1,877 acres he owns. His crops include cotton, soybeans, wheat and corn. He also has about 420 beef cows and 20 bulls, maintains 250 acres of catfish ponds and operates Central Alabama Equipment and Supply.
Givhan is a decorated Vietnam War veteran and served six years in the Alabama National Guard. Returning home from the war in 1969, Givhan worked at the Bush Hog manufacturing facility in Selma, where he was responsible for designing tillage equipment. He started farming with his father, brother and a friend and began managing the farm full time in 1973. He eventually became the sole stockholder in Givhan Land & Cattle Co.
Givhan is chairman of the board of directors for the Alabama Farmers Cooperative and has been on the board for nine years.
He served as president of the Dallas County Farmers Federation for 26 years, is president of Central Alabama Farmers Cooperative, serves on a committee for the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and is on the Dallas County Cattlemen’s Association board.
He is a founding member of the Alabama Agribusiness Council and a member of the Alabama Farmers Federation Wheat & Feed Grains Committee.
He and his wife, Lynne, are members of Safford Baptist Church. They have two adult sons, David, who is responsible for managing the farm’s hay and cattle production, and Sam, their oldest son, who is an attorney in Huntsville.
Givhan was nominated for the Alabama Farmer of the Year award by Robert Utsey, an area organizational director for the Alabama Farmers Federation.
As the Alabama state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo award, Givhan will receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense-paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla.; a $500 gift certificate from the Southern States cooperative and the choice of either $1,000 in PhytoGen cottonseed or a $500 donation to a designated charity on behalf of Dow Agrosciences. Courtesy of Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply, each farmer and nominator will receive a Columbia Cathedral Peak Vest.
Givhan is eligible for the $15,000 that will go to the overall winner. Other prizes for the overall winner include a year’s use of a Massey Ferguson tractor from Massey Ferguson of North America; another $500 gift certificate from the Southern States cooperative and the choice of either another $1,000 in PhytoGen cottonseed or a second $500 donation to a designated charity on behalf of Dow Agrosciences.
Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply will provide the overall winner with a Columbia Steen’s Mountain Tech Full Zip Jacket.