EMPHASIS ON QUALIT Y
Gibbs helped build up his herd by buying high quality Angus and
Simmental females at dispersal sales. In past years, he marketed
calves in truckload lots through the Piedmont Cattle Marketing
He helped to organize Allied Genetic Resources, a company owned
by elite Simmental and SimAngus producers, that provides breeding
stock, marketing assistance, and a host of other services to improve
the profitability of its commercial beef customers. “For us to be
successful, we have to make our customers successful,” he says.
Gibbs is no stranger to the Sunbelt Expo farm show; he has
exhibited his SimAngus cattle at the Expo for the past ten years.
Environmental protection is a top priority for Gibbs Farms.
Streams and ponds are fenced out. Geotextile fabric and crushed
stone help prevent mud and soil erosion problems in heavy
use areas where hay is fed and where the cattle drink water. All
pastures are fenced and cross-fenced for rotational grazing. He
grows timber on land that is not suited for grazing, and also sets
aside land for streamside buffers and for wildlife.
Gibbs has been active in the Cleburne County Cattlemen’s
Association. He served as President of the Alabama Cattlemen’s
Association in 1999 and as President of the Alabama Beef Cattle
Improvement Association in 1998. He has also served on the
boards of the Alabama and Georgia Simmental Associations.
He and his wife, Nan, have been active in Ranburne’s First
Baptist Church and now at Macedonia Baptist Church. Nan has
been a leader for local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts organizations,
and she has served on the Women’s Committee of Alabama
A FAMILY OPERATION
After Nan and Wendell married in 1961, they bought four Polled
Hereford heifers and raised chickens on their first 40 acres. Nan
grew up on a crop farm in Georgia, and she essentially managed the
cattle operation during their first 27 years of marriage. She currently
manages the farm’s accounting, payroll, and herd software.
They no longer grow chickens; their focus now is entirely
on beef production. They added Simmental cattle to their herd
during 1972, and in 1990 they brought in their first Angus cattle.
Nan and Wendell have three adult children: daughter Lorie,
a veterinarian at Roswell, Ga.; daughter Wendy, who works at a
school in Carrollton, Ga.; and son Doug, who joined the farm full-
time in 2000 when they leased additional farms. By 2005, they had
successfully transitioned from a commercial beef farm to a seed stock
operation. Doug became more involved in the farm when Wendell
was traveling on behalf of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association. He is
now the operations manager at Gibbs Farms and says, “We’re devoted
to collecting accurate, reliable data, on our cattle.”
In recent years, Nan and Wendell’s grandson, Bradley, began
working full-time on the farm and purchased his own separate
45-head herd. On a part-time basis, Wendy, Doug’s wife Lucretia,
and granddaughters Whitney and Toni help with sale settlements
and accounting. Another grandson, Clayton, attends college and
works on the farm part-time while building his own small cattle
herd. All of Nan and Wendell’s children and grandchildren help
out during their annual sale each November.
Jeff Helms with the Alabama Farmers Federation coordinates
the Farmer of the Year award in the state. David Farnsworth, Area
Organization Director with the Alabama Farmers Federation,
nominated Gibbs for the award. “The Gibbs family are among
the most trusted farmers I know,” says Farnsworth. “Wendell is an
honest, humble man; he’s one of the most giving persons I know.”
As the Alabama state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo
award, Gibbs will receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense-paid
trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville,
Fla., a $500 gift certificate from Southern States cooperative, and a
Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply.
He is now eligible for the $15,000 cash prize that will go to the
overall winner. Other prizes for the overall winner include the use
of a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year from Massey Ferguson
Swisher International, through its Swisher Sweets cigar brand,
and the Sunbelt Expo are sponsoring the Southeastern Farmer
of the Year awards for the 27th consecutive year. Swisher has
contributed $1.04 million in cash awards and other honors to
southeastern farmers since the award was initiated in 1990.
Previous state winners from Alabama include Ricky Wiggins
of Anderson, 1990; George Kiser, Sr. of Foley, 1991; Allen Bragg
of Toney, 1992; Sykes Martin of Courtland, 1993; David Pearce of
Browns, 1994; Glenn Jones of Blountsville, 1995; Raymond Jones
of Huntsville, 1996; Dan Miller of Greensboro, 1997.
Homer Tate of Meridianville, 1998; Eugene Glenn of Hillsboro,
1999; George T. Hamilton of Hillsboro, 2000; Bert Driskell of
Billy Gilley of Holly Pond, 2007; Lamar Dewberry of Lineville,
2008; David Wright of Plantersville, 2009; Shep Morris of Shorter,
2010; Andy Wendland of Autaugaville, 2011; Sam Givhan of
Safford, 2012; Annie Dee of Aliceville, 2013; Phillip Hunter of
Birmingham, 2014; and Ricky Cornutt of Boaz, 2015.
Alabama has had one overall winner, Raymond Jones of
Huntsville, in 1996.
Judges for this year’s award selections were Clark Garland,
long-time University of Tennessee Extension agricultural
economist from Maryville, Tenn.; farmer Thomas Porter, Jr., of
Concord, N.C., who was the overall winner in 2011; and Charles
Snipes, retired Mississippi Extension weed scientist from
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