Nichols said he owns and operates Seven Springs Farms in Wallonia with his family as well as with his partner Mike Oliver.
“I built the operation from scratch to what I would hope and strive to be one of the best, well-managed operations in North America,” said Nichols. “I started farming full-time in January of 2000 after a massive drought in 1999, but with no crop insurance. I figured if I could survive that, I could survive.”
Nichols, who started out working for Hudson Ag in Princeton, said that he has also worked at the John Deere dealership and became the general manager there, and by the year 2000 he was farming 2,000 acres of land.
As of today, the farming operation includes more than 19,200 acres, and major crops include 7,400 acres of soybeans, 3,000 acres of wheat, 3,950 acres of yellow corn, 3,100 acres of white corn and 71 acres of dark-fired tobacco, Nichols said, adding that the farm also has more than 1.9 million bushels of grain storage capacity.
Nichols said he thinks his recent success and growth is due to operational partner Mike Oliver, who joined Seven Springs Farms in 2008. He added that his wife Kadonna is also a large contributor to the farming operation, as are his brother Todd and his father Bill Joe.
“Without [Oliver’s] loyalty and help, my days would not be bearable,” said Nichols.
Nichols’s children Heather and Jillian are also often seen working on the farm along with Seven Springs Farm’s 35 full-time employees, added Nichols.
The Nichols have two daughters, Heather, a sophomore at Western Kentucky University majoring in agricultural business, and Jillian, who will soon be attending the University of Kentucky. In addition to attending college, his daughters are in the process of learning the family business and being brought into the daily operations.
Joe Nichols is also a five-time winner of the National Corn Growers Association Yield Contest and was a 2008 runner-up for top producer of the year. He is a member of the Trigg County Leadership Program, Kentucky Soybean Association, Farm Credi Services of Mid-America Advisory Council and the Cadiz Rotary Club, and also sponsors the annual Ducks Unlimited Banquet.
Having been named the farmer of the year, the Nichols’s receive a $1,000 cash award from the Kentucky Farm Bureau and a $2,500 award from Swisher International. Nichols will represent Kentucky in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Contest.
The overall winner will be announced in Valdosta, Ga., on Monday, Oct. 18, of this year.
Kentucky Farm Bureau initiated the Farmer of the Year awards program in 2006 as a way to recognize farmers for their commitment to excellence in agriculture and their efficiency in farming practices, sound financial management and leadership in civic organizations. The Southeastern Farmer of the Year program was started in 1990 by Swisher International and the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition. Since the inception of this regional honor, nearly $750,000 has been awarded to state and overall winners.
Ten southeastern states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia, participate in this regional awards program. Kentucky Farm Bureau administers and promotes the awards program for Kentucky.