A Pickens County beef, grain and soybean farm was named Alabama’s 2013 Farm of Distinction at the Alabama Farm-City Awards program in Birmingham, April 11.
Owned and operated by President Annie Dee, her brother and Farm Manager Mike Dee and their 10 siblings, Dee River Ranch is recognized throughout the country for innovation. From precision technology and the on-farm production of biofuels to electronic animal identification and computerized irrigation systems, the Dees use their 10,000-acre farm to develop practices benefiting their family and community.
“We raise approximately 4,000 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans and have around a thousand head of commercial Brahman-Angus crossed cattle,” said Mike Dee. “It’s a wonderful place where we live and farm. We’re blessed to be right here and excited about the farm we have.”
As the winner, the Dees received more than $14,000 in prizes including an engraved farm sign from the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance; a John Deere Gator from SunSouth, TriGreen and Snead Ag Supply dealers; a $1,000 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative and a $2,500 cash award from Swisher International. The Dees will represent Alabama in the Southeastern Farmer of the Year competition at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga., Oct. 15-17.
By embracing new technology, the Dees are redefining “sustainable agriculture.”
“Sustainability is what we live for,” Mike said. “We would never do anything that would hurt this soil. We want to keep farming not just the next three or four years; we’re talking about the next three or four generations that we want to make a living off this land, improve this land and have our lives right here. We live here, we work here, and this is our life.”
The Dees’ most recent investment in their farm’s future is an irrigation system including a 115-acre reservoir and computerized pumping stations.
“Irrigation is not going to make a crop on its own, but irrigation is like an insurance policy,” he said. “It will help a crop survive if we manage it right, and it will make a good crop better.”
Other Alabama Farm of Distinction finalists received engraved walnut plaques and $250 gift certificates from Alabama Farmers Cooperative. They were Ray and Delle Bean of Del-Ray Ranch in Calhoun County, Joe and Patty Lambrecht of Oakview Farms in Elmore County, and James and Joan Malone of Southern Heritage Land and Livestock Co. in Mobile County.
The winner was selected by a panel of agricultural experts who judged the farms on environmental stewardship, overall appearance, accomplishments, efficiency and leadership of the farm owners.
Observed the week before Thanksgiving, Farm-City Week began in 1955 as a way to foster cooperation and understanding between farmers and their city neighbors.