For Scotty Raines, the best part of farming is watching the fruits of his labor – witnessing those tiny seeds crack through the ground, bursting with life. Awe and dedication have paid off for Raines, who was just recognized with the title of 2022 Georgia Farmer of the Year by the Georgia Agribusiness Council.
“I don’t know of any other job where you can take something lifeless, place it in the dirt and then a few months later harvest a crop from it – it’s nothing short of amazing,” Raines said.
While he didn’t grow up on a farm, Raines was an active member in the Turner County High School FFA chapter and worked as a farm technician for Agra Tech Seed Research after high school. He began farming full time in 1993, partnering with his father-in-law on 500 acres of rented land and establishing a personal herd of 30 beef cows. Raines has spent the intervening 28 years expanding and diversifying his farming operation, with special emphasis in marketing strategies related to the cotton, corn, peanuts and watermelons he now produces on more than 2,300 acres.
Being recognized as the Georgia Farmer of the Year comes with another honor — Raines will be one of 10 regional farmers in the running for the Swisher Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year in October.
Raines was nominated by Guy Hancock, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent in Turner County. Raines and Hancock worked together to detail Raines’ emphasis on growing his percentage of irrigated acres, adopting technology to improve both the efficiency and sustainability of crop production, and adding value to his crops beyond the farm gate price through marketing strategies. Raines and his wife, Melanie, have received numerous awards for their farming operation, including the Georgia Farm Bureau Young Farmer Achievement Award, the Turner County Chamber of Commerce Farmer of the Year, the Soil and Water Conservation Award, and the Georgia Young Farmers Farm Family of the Year. They are both active in Georgia Farm Bureau, serving at the county and state level. Scotty Raines also serves on the board of directors, representing the 8th district.
“For the farming community in Georgia, the recognition of Farmer of the Year allows us to get the news out there and tell the stories of our farmers,” said Mark McCann, assistant dean for Extension with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). “There are no two alike, and it is a wonderful way for us to celebrate agriculture and the culture of farming across our state.”
The Raines family will continue their story, with plans in the upcoming year to invest in a precision planter to help with plant stand and uniformity. In the meantime, Raines is focusing on hope for the next generation of Georgia farmers.
“I hope they do not grow weary – we have several young farmers in our county and I love to see the energy they bring to the industry,” he said. “My hope is to see the younger generation enter the farming industry to keep this industry strong in Georgia and the U.S. We can’t survive without farmers.”