For Scotty Raines, the best part of farming is witnessing the seeds he plants crack through the ground, bursting with life. Raines was named the 2022 Georgia Farmer of the Year by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension earlier this year. As the Georgia Farmer of the Year, Raines will compete with nine other state winners for the Swisher Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award to be announced in October.
“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 of the Turner County High School FFA Chapter. After high school he was a farm technician for Agra Tech Seed Research.
Raines 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 last 28 years expanding and diversifying his farm, placing special emphasis on marketing strategies related to the cotton, corn, peanuts and watermelons he grows on more than 2,300 acres.
Guy Hancock, Turner County UGA Cooperative Extension agent, nominated Raines. Hancock and Raines have worked to increase Raines’ irrigated acres, adopt technology to improve the efficiency and sustainability of his crop production, and use marketing strategies to add value to Raines’ crops above the farm gate price.
Raines and his wife, Melanie, have received numerous awards for their farm, 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. Both are active Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) members. Scotty serves on the GFB Board of Directors, representing the GFB 8th District. Melanie served four years on the GFB Women’s Leadership Committee from 2010 through 2013.
“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 Dr. Mark McCann, UGA Cooperative Extension assistant dean. “There are no two alike, and it is a wonderful way for us to celebrate agriculture and the culture of farming across our state.”
In the coming year, the Raines family plans to invest in a precision planter to improve plant stand and uniformity. Meanwhile, Raines is hopeful 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 farming to keep agriculture strong in Georgia and the U.S. We can’t survive without farmers.”
2022 Georgia Farmer of the Year Scotty Raines and wife, Melanie, center, accept congratulations from UGA Extension Assistant Dean Mark McCann, left, and UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences Dean Nick Place.