By Zirconia Alleyne
Born and bred in Pembroke and raised on his parent’s livestock farm, Farmer of the Year Jeff Davis could easily be named Businessman of the Year, too.
Not only does he own a 1,350-acre farm where he grows corn, wheat, soybeans, tobacco, canola and hemp, Jeff owns Buy-Rite Parts and Supply and has several rental properties. He was also part-owner of a sub shop and owner of a liquor store in the past.
In recent years, Jeff has experimented with new tillage practices and was one of only six farmers in the state to grow industrial hemp last summer.
Jeff couldn’t pinpoint where he developed his entrepreneurialism and innovative edge but said he’s always liked trying new things.
“I think you are really born with it,” he said. “I just like the business part of it, the deals — I always like having a deal going.”
Everything he learned about farming came from his dad, who moved to Pembroke from east Tennessee in 1961 to start a farm raising hogs. Jeff’s been farming ever since he was old enough to help out.
He bought some land of his own in 1995 and started growing tobacco. Then, in 2004, he bought his dad out of the farm when he started to “semi-retire.” Jeff said the agriculture
industry has changed a lot since then, noting that much of it is no-till or strip-till for tobacco.
Jeff — a father of two girls, Sarah, 11, and Emily, 9, — hopes his daughters will pursue careers in agriculture but he doesn’t want to force them into it.
“They’re still young,” he said. “They like to get out on the farm and I would like to see them maybe be part of it, but it’s hard to look 10 years down the road.”
Propped up on her father’s lap, Emily said she likes farming with her dad whenever it’s sunny outside. She learned how to drive the sprayer last year.
Sarah said her dad has taught her to try her best in everything she does.
Married for 13 years, Jeff said he couldn’t do half the things he does without his wife, Robin.
“To describe my husband, I’d say he’s wonderful, a great father and he’s an amazing man,” she said.
Robin and the girls knew about Jeff receiving the award a week before the annual eye opener breakfast, but all three held water until his name was called.
Jeff said it’s a big honor to be named Farmer of the Year by his peers but carrying that title doesn’t mean he has everything about farming or entrepreneurship figured out.
“If you don’t have some failures, then you don’t know how to grow,” Jeff said. “I’ve had a few (failures), but my goal is to have more positives than failures … Warren Buffett said, ‘Know your limitations and surround yourself with people that are better than you.’”
Jeff said he enjoys learning from businessmen who are smarter than him. He serves on the boards for Agri-Chem and Hopkinsville Elevator, and the Davises attend Lakeview Baptist Church.
“My dad’s hobby was working and I always got mad that he wouldn’t take a break, but he just plum enjoyed farming, and I feel that same way today.”