Sam and Lynne Givhan, seated in the John Deere Gator, are this year’s Alabama Farm of Distinction winner. The Givhans operate a diversified farm in Dallas County where they grow cotton, catfish, soybeans and beef cattle. From left are Tom Tribble of John Deere, Jerry Newby, president of Alabama Farmers Federation; Jim Allen of Alabama Farmers Cooperative; the Givhans and John Deere Dealers Chris Cline of Snead Ag Supply, Lester Killebrew of SunSouth, Kenneth Williams of Snead Ag Supply and Lynne Morton of TriGreen Equipment.

County farm honored

Published 1:29am Sunday, April 8, 2012

A diversified Dallas County farm was named the state’s 2012 Farm of Distinction during the Alabama Farm-City Awards Luncheon in Birmingham recently.

Sam Givhan was this year’s winner and will represent Alabama in the Swisher Sweets Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest Oct. 16-18 in Moultrie, Ga.

At age 68, Givhan has seen a lot of changes in agriculture at Givhan Land and Cattle Co. near Safford, but it’s his ability to change and adapt that’s made his farm successful, as his farm expanded from traditional Black Belt crops like cotton and soybeans to catfish and cattle.

“When I was a kid, most of the farming was done with mules,” Givhan said. “We had a few old tractors that did some ground work, but the plowing and planting and all that — and the harvesting of cotton — was done by manual labor and animal power. Over the years, we’ve finally evolved into trying to do as much no-till farming as we can here. We still do some things the old way, but agriculture in this area has really changed.”

Givhan served 26 years as president of the Dallas County Farmers Federation and is a former board member of the Alabama Farmers Federation.

He is president of the Central Alabama Farmers Co-op and incoming chairman of the Alabama Farmers Co-op board of directors.

During the awards program Givhan received a John Deere Gator donated by SunSouth, Snead Ag and TriGreen Equipment dealers in Alabama, plus a $1,250 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative, redeemable at any of its member Quality Co-Op stores.

The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Health presented Givhan an engraved farm sign, and they also will receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense-paid trip to the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo.

The Swisher Sweets Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year will receive $14,000, plus several other prizes.

A Vietnam veteran, Givhan returned to his family farm near Safford in 1969, and by 1972, he was running the operation as president and manager.

Today, the farm spans more than 4,500 acres and includes about 2,000 acres of row crops, a 400-cow commercial beef cattle herd and 250 acres of catfish ponds.

While Givhan’s biggest crop remains soybeans, he said catfish have played an important role in recent years.

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