More than 125 people came out to the Bulloch County Center for Agriculture Friday morning to pray for a bountiful and safe farming year in 2020, and one young local farmer received an unexpected honor. The “Blessing of the Crops” is an annual event hosted by the Agribusiness Committee of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce.
About a dozen folks at the gathering offered prayers, with Speer Brannen starting the supplications.
“Lord, I want to ask your blessings on the 2020 crop year,” Brannen said. “For mild weather. For timely rains. For a safety for all the families and workers, Lord. Grant your protection around each one. We ask for wisdom for the decisions and choices that have to be made in farming. And for you to give us wisdom to help to be good stewards of the land and livestock and animals you place us in charge of.”
But before the prayers began, Charlie McCook, chair of the Agribusiness Committee, welcomed the group and announced a new award the Chamber would begin selecting an honoree for every year —Young Farmer of the Year.
“As you know, we host Farm City in November, and last year we awarded a Farmer of the Year to Mr. Leeman Brannen, which was very well deserved,” McCook said. “We were going through our nominations this year and we noticed we got a lot of nominations for people who are younger in our community, who are pulling themselves up, who are just getting started in this business and who are going to continue on and carry the torch into the next generation for Bulloch County ag.
“So, we decided we’re going to present an award and a plaque to a well-deserving young farmer within Bulloch County.”
And then Ricky Nevil and Brent Nevil were asked to introduce the first recipient of the new honor — James Nevil, who is Ricky Nevil’s cousin and Brent Nevil’s nephew.
“Bulloch County is loaded with young farmers who have a calling,” Ricky Nevil said. “If you want to call it a blessing or a curse, they’re not getting out of it. The young group is so strong in their faith and that’s what it’s going to take a lot of. Because it doesn’t matter if you think you got it whipped this way or that way, something is going to get you. But the good Lord is going to protect you.”
“Young farmers mean a lot to this community and we need to keep them encouraged and keep them pushing to keep the industry going,” Brent Nevil said. “The person getting this award is a loving man, a God-loving man. A good Christian. He grew up farming along with my daddy. Just watching him grow through the years, he’s matured into a nice young man. I want him to feel blessed and encouraged to stay and keep going.”
Young Farmer of the Year
A stunned James Nevil made his way toward his uncle and cousin and singled out his late grandfather, Tony Nevil, in accepting the award.
“I’m straight up at a loss for words,” said James Nevil, who owns Sinkhole Farms, Inc. “This is really, really special. My granddad, most of you all knew him, he was awesome. I was blessed to spend 12, 15 years with him every day. Not too many people can say that about their grandfather. But I learned an awful lot about him and how to farm.”
Tony Nevil passed away in a farming accident in 2018. The Chamber honored Tony and Brent Nevil Farms in 2003 with the Farm Family of the Year award.
“This award is for my grandfather,” James Nevil said. “He taught me everything I know about it. You got to have it in your blood. I don’t know why we do what we do, but we keep doing it every year. This farming community is a family. We all bounce off one another. And it takes all of us together to make the whole unit work. I really appreciate this award and I really appreciate all of you all who support us as a family and as a farm community.”
After Nevil received his award and Speer Brannen said the first prayer, farmers and community members offered their prayers to the gathered group.
“We pray for our farmers and our ag community that we live in. We pray, Lord, that you keep an edge of protection over them as we hopefully get some dry weather in the near future and they start planting. We thank you for all you say and do and to lead us in our daily walk with you.”
“Lord, thank you for the farmers and all that they mean to this community. We are so blessed to have such a God-loving farming community and we pray you watch over the crops and all the people who till your fields with all your mercy.”
“Thank you, Lord, for the good land you’ve given us here in Bulloch County and the surrounding counties and the good soil you’ve put beneath our feet. Thank you for the good rain you’ve sent and the good sky and sunshine, as well. Thank you, Lord, for watching over us and guiding and directing us.”
And, finally, James Nevil offered his own prayer.
“We pray, Lord, that you give us peace as we start this year. That we always keep in mind that it’s not about us, it’s about you, God. We pray that you align us with your will and everyone here has an internal calling for you, God. And we pray that we’ll respond to that.”
Jim Healy may be reached at (912) 489-9402.