in 1980. High interest rates and dry weather made that a difficult
year to start farming.
“Our soil is our most valuable resource,” says Haskew. He has
cleared land for pastures, and has conserved soil by planting
native grasses. He also was an early adopter of Roundup Ready
soybeans. He has been recognized by his local conservation
district in 1986 and 1995 for his work in soil conservation.
Haskew has been active in Marion County Farm Bureau, as a
member of the board and as President for 22 years. He helped
to organize the Marion County Forestry Association, serves as
Chairman of the Marion County Soil Conservation District board,
has been active in Marion Farmers Co-op, and served on the
Marion County Extension Committee and on the board of the
Marion County Livestock Association.
He has also served on the board of the USDA-Farm Service
Agency in Marion County, and has also been a member of the
board of Sequatchie Valley Electric Cooperative. Since 1980, he has
been an active member of Lou’s Chapel United Methodist Church.
In Tennessee Farm Bureau, he has been a state board member
since 2008, and has served on a number of Tennessee Farm
Bureau committees at the state level. He is a past board member
of Tennessee Soybean Association, and took part in an agricultural
leadership program sponsored by University of Tennessee
Extension. He has also been a voting delegate at American Farm
From 1995 until 2010, he was a Certified Crop Advisor. In that
capacity, he learned a great deal about soil, water, and nutrient
management that he has been able to use on his own farm.
Haskew’s wife, Shannon, works for BlueCross BlueShield of
Tennessee. In past years, she worked as office manager for Marion
County Soil Conservation District, and has hosted farm-city
events for about 11 years, in which she and James welcomed local
elementary school students to their farm. She has also served
on the local and state Farm Bureau’s Women’s Committee, and
has been a voting delegate at American Farm Bureau annual
James and Shannon’s daughter, Emily, is a University of
Tennessee student this fall, planning to major in agricultural
communications; she hopes to eventually represent agriculture as
an environmental attorney. Shannon and Emily both volunteer at
the National Cornbread Festival held each year in South Pittsburg,
known as a manufacturing center for cast iron skillets.
Robert Burns with the Tennessee Cooperative Extension Service
coordinates the Farmer of the Year award in the state. Haskew
was nominated for the honor by C. Dallas Manning, Extension
area farm management specialist. “I’ve worked with James for
years,” says Manning. “He’s a good guy, who has built his farm
after starting with nothing. He’s good at farm management, farm
planning, and marketing. He has overcome struggles and has a
good head on his shoulders. He believes in agriculture, and he
adds value to his crops by owning and operating his own feed
As the Tennessee state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt
Expo award, Haskew receives 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 the Southern States
cooperative, and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm
He is now eligible for the $15,000 cash award that goes 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 Tennessee include James R.
Graham of Newport, 1990; Burl Ottinger of Parrottsville, 1991;
Dwaine Peters of Madisonville, 1992; Edward Wilson of Cleveland,
1993; Bob Willis of Hillsboro, 1994; Bobby W. Vannatta of Bell
Buckle, 1995; George McDonald of Riddleton, 1996; Jimmy
Gaylord of Sharon, 1997; Jimmy Tosh of Henry, 1998; Eugene
Pugh, Jr. of Halls, 1999; Harris Armour of Somerville, 2000;
Malcolm Burchfiel of Newbern, 2001; Ed Rollins of Pulaski, 2002;
John Smith of Puryear, 2003.
Austin Anderson of Manchester, 2004; John Litz of Morristown,
2005; Bob Willis of Hillsboro, 2006; Grant Norwood of Paris, 2007;
Jerry Ray of Tullahoma, 2008; Richard Atkinson of Belvidere, 2009;
Brad Black of Vonore, 2010; Mac Pate of Maryville, 2011; Steve
Dixon of Estill Springs, 2012; Richard Jameson of Brownsville,
2013; John Keller of Maryville, 2014; and George Clay of Pelham,
Tennessee has had two overall winners, Jimmy Tosh of Henry in
1998, and Bob Willis of Hillsboro in 2006.
OFFICIAL 2016 EXPO
SOUVENIRS MAY BE PURCHASED AT
VISITOR INFORMATION BOOTHS
T-shirts, Expo caps & 2016 Expo Coke Bottles
are also available for purchase at our online store
Hay and forage demonstrations are part of in-the-field events at Sunbelt Expo.