During his half century of dedication to the farming industry, James (Jimmy) Wise of Samson, Ala., has adopted a favorite saying.”I’d rather look at an ugly cow than a good-looking cotton patch,” he said.Now Wise has nothing against cotton or row crops. But, it is easy to detect his love and affection for the beef cattle industry.”From the time I graduated from Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn University) in 1954 and returned to the farm to work with my dad, I’ve enjoyed working with the beef cattle,” said Wise.That love has resulted in Wise developing one of the top Limousin beef cattle operations in the Southeast and seeing J.A. Wise and Son Farms being named Alabama’s 2005 Farm of Distinction by the Alabama Farm-City Committee last April.As the state’s Farm of Distinction winner, Wise will join seven other state finalists from Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia in competing for the 2005 Southeastern Farmer of the Year title at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga. The winner will be announced at a luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Wise’s partnership with his father lasted until 1992 when he completed the purchase of the original 1,640 acres. Growth began immediately and today the operation has almost doubled in size to more than 3,500 acres.”This is when we overcame our toughest problem and that was making payments on the initial property,” said Wise. “We managed to keep everything going and continued to grow.”Wise hasn’t always raised Limousin cattle. “We were introduced to them several years ago and made the switch,” Wise said. “Today, all our cows are bred to Limousin bulls, and the calves are sold in big load lots to Laura’s Lean Beef Company in Kentucky.”We have thoroughly enjoyed working with them for many years. Their lean-to-fat ratio is very good, and they yield extremely well,” he added.There’s a lot more to the operation today. Peanuts cover 200 acres with a yield of 2,500 pounds per acre; there’s 700 acres of cotton, yielding 700 pounds per acre; and soybeans are grown on 180 acres, producing 46 bushels per acre.”We used to work a little over 600 acres of peanuts, but cut that part of the operation back as the cattle grew,” said Wise. “As far as the future is concerned, we are looking to increase the cattle by 200 to 300 head. If we do that, then we will cut back on the row crops.”In reviewing his 50-year farming career, the 74-year-old Wise describes it as “a very nice ride for a lot of years. It’s been bumpy in some places, but very rewarding overall.”And how would Wise like to be remembered?”Number one would be that I was honest with everyone and treated everyone fairly,” he said. “Plus, I was a good husband and father.”Wise’s wife, Joyce, taught school and was a counselor for more than 38 years. They have two children — son J. Allen and daughter Amy. In addition to serving the family’s agriculture business as an officer, Allen manages two John Deere dealerships in Alabama while Amy works for the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.As the Alabama state winner, Wise will receive $2,500 from Swisher International, which along with the Sunbelt Expo, has sponsored the Southeastern Farmer of the Year for 16 years. He will also receive a jacket and a $200 gift certificate from the Williamson-Dickie Company, a $500 gift certificate from Southern States and a $300 fireproof home safe from Misty Morn Safe Company.Additionally, the 2005 Southeastern Farmer of the Year will receive a $14,000 cash award from Swisher; a custom-designed jacket, another $500 gift certificate and $500 cash from Dickies; the use of a Massey Ferguson tractor of their choice for one year from Massey Ferguson North America; a $3,600 custom-made safe from Misty Morn; and another $500 gift certificate from Southern States.
Farm Of Distinction