The Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Committee honored the late M. L. "Buddy" Miller posthumously Friday when his family was named the 2007 Statesboro-Bulloch County Farm Family of the Year, and when a scholarship was renamed in his honor.
The Bulloch County Agribusiness scholarship, funded by the annual cotton auction held by the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce, is now known as the "M. L. Miller scholarship," said Heidi Jeffers, Director of Economic Development Programs for the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce.
Each year the Chamber of Commerce agribusiness committee selects a local farm family for the honor, basing criteria upon involvement in the agricultural community. The Miller family, specifically M. L. Miller, has long been a strong supporter of agriculture, said Patrick Robertson, Miller's stepson.
Miller married Robertson's mother, Ginger Martin, in 1983, and Robertson grew up on the farm.
He loved it, he said.
"It was very quiet, but very busy," he said, recalling his favorite tasks of checking peanut crops and connecting trailers filled with peanuts to the dryers. "I looked forward to that," he said.
Miller raised mainly peanuts, but also grew cotton, corn and soybeans. In his early farming career he also raised livestock, Robertson said.
Miller was born in 1929, and when he came of age attended the University of Georgia. After graduation, returned to the family farm where he tended about 350 acres of soybeans and peanuts. As his farming career grew, so did his involvement within the farming community, said Chamber of Commerce board chairman Ray McKinney during a short speech at Friday's Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce Farm City Breakfast, where the honors were bestowed upon the Miller family.
McKinney brought to attention Miller's contributions to the agricultural world through "leadership and support of the Georgia Peanut Commission, various commodity committee memberships, and his long standing presidency at the Bulloch County Farm Bureau.
" He became president of the Bulloch County Farm Bureau in 1973 and never left the position until he was called to Heaven," he said.
Miller traveled to Washington, D.C. on numerous occasions conducting Farm Bureau business, and went all over the country speaking on behalf of the South Georgia farmer and protecting their occupation, he said.
Miller also authored several articles in the Statesboro Magazine about the importance of agriculture to future generations and to the security of the United States.
The fact that Miller was honored for his involvement was overwhelming to Robertson and Ginger Miller, his mother.
"It is a great honor," he said. "It makes us extremely humble. Farming is essential and critical - it's very important to feed the world."
Ms. Miller said she was so emotional during the breakfast she was unable to speak.
"It just goes straight to my head," she said. It's so wonderful that they remembered M. L. in that way."
The scholarship, which consists of an $1,000 award given to two students annually, was also a great honor, she said.
"Education was always uppermost in (Miller's) mind," she said. "He was the first in his family to get a college degree, and those (honors) would mean so much to M. L."
The scholarship is awarded based upon criteria including two letters of recommendation and an essay regarding agricultural issues, Jeffers said.
"This is very touching to me," Ms. Miller said. "It meant more than I can express."
McKinney also spoke highly of Miller's dedication.
"He was at every (agribusiness committee) meeting, and a strong supporter of the Chamber and Ag committee."