Agricultural leaders in farming, agribusiness and education were honored Jan. 31 in Auburn as five inductees were added to the Alabama Agriculture Hall of Honor.
Coffee County farmer Philip Martin, former Auburn University Poultry Sciences Department Head Robert Brewer and retired Alabama Farmers Cooperative CEO Tommy Paulk joined 85 men and women honored since 1985. Former Delta Pride Catfish CEO and President Samuel Hinote and former Alabama Power Co. Executive Vice President Everett Easter were honored posthumously with the Pioneer Award.
Sponsored by the Auburn University Agricultural Alumni Association, the Hall of Honor recognizes Alabama residents who have contributed to the state’s farming industry.
Martin, who served as president of the Coffee County Farmers Federation from 1967 to 1998, took over day-to-day operation of his family’s dairy farm in 1956.
Under his leadership, the dairy operation grew exponentially, earning Martin seven Alabama Master Dairyman Awards. Martin later diversified with peanuts and corn. He also helped inspire young people by coaching judging teams, hosting interns and sponsoring exchange students. Martin served on the boards of directors of both the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Federal Land Bank.
A native of Phil Campbell, Brewer joined Auburn’s faculty in 1968 as an assistant professor of poultry science. He was named department head in 1987, a position he held until his retirement in 2001. During Brewer’s tenure, student enrollment in poultry sciences at Auburn quadrupled. He also is credited with envisioning and securing funding for the 85,000-square-foot Poultry Science Building.
Paulk grew up at his family’s business, Bonnie Plants, in Union Springs. In 1975, Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC) bought Bonnie Plants, and Paulk was named sales manager in 1977. He was later promoted to general manager before being named CEO in 1994. Paulk developed a new marketing strategy for Bonnie Plants that led to the development of 75 growing and distribution sites. He also expanded AFC’s investment in the catfish industry.
Hinote began his career with Nebraska Consolidated Mills, which later became ConAgra Inc., and eventually became general manager of fish product operations for the company.
In 1980, Hinote moved to Indianola, Miss., as manager and founding president and CEO of Delta Pride Catfish. Hinote returned to Alabama in 1990 where he purchased Blue Waters Catfish Processing in Demopolis.
During his career, Hinote received the Catfish Farmers Marketing Association Award and served two terms as president of the American Catfish Marketing Association.
A Limestone County native, Easter joined Auburn’s agricultural engineering faculty as an associate professor charged with supervising research about the use of electricity on farms and in rural communities.
After completing his research, Easter was hired by Alabama Power Co. as chief agricultural engineer to supervise expansion of electricity into rural areas of the state. By the time he became executive vice president in 1958, Alabama Power had run 25,000 miles of rural lines, bringing electricity to 200,000 customers.
Since 1996, the Alabama Agriculture Hall of Honor has presented the Pioneer Award to the families of 36 individuals whose contributions had a positive impact on farming in the state.
For more information about the AU Ag Alumni Association and the Hall of Honor, visit http://www.ag.auburn.edu/alumni/.