April 10, 2012
A diversified Dallas County farm was named the 2012 Alabama Farm of Distinction during the state’s farm-city awards luncheon in Birmingham on April 2, 2012, the Alabama Local News reported.
According to the news outlet, the farm’s 68-year-old owner has seen the agricultural industry change over the years, but Sam Givhan has been able to adapt in order to maintain a successful business. His farm expanded from the 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 told the news source. “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.”
Many awards like the Farm of Distinction exist around the U.S. and often the best prize for a dedicated farmer, other than the pride that comes from winning, is equipment from John Deere. Givhan was given a John Deere Gator that was donated by several area dealers, as the presenting committee felt this was an appropriate gift for a tried-and-true farmer, according to the Alabama Local News.
The Alabama Farmers Federation, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, was on hand to present the award, as they have been serving farmers from the state since 1921.
According to the organization’s website, farmers like Givhan have received the award for their work in the industry, and he was singled out for the adjustments that his farm went through in order to keep up with the times. A Vietnam veteran, he returned from the war to run the family farm, and after years of hard work, the 4,500-acre operation is still running smoothly.
The transition to catfish and cattle was difficult, but he was able to adjust and shift the farm to meet the market’s needs.
“We’ve been growing some catfish for about 20-25 years now, but I got serious about it about 15 years ago,” Givhan said. “I saw the handwriting that you’re either going to have to get to a viable size operation or get out, so we invested and went into it, and it’s been one of the better ends of the operation for the last few years.”