PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. - Robert Mills is the first Pittsylvania County farmer to ever claim the title of Virginia Farmer of the year.
Mills is a first-generation farmer and has only been tending crops for about 20 years, but he's already creating a family legacy.
"My son, who is 16 and a half years old, is coming back to the farm after he gets his college degree," Mills said.
Mills owns over 2,000 acres of land.
He grows four different types of tobacco over 95 acres, has a 300 head cow-calf operation, and raises 17,000 chickens for Purdue.
"It's hard to believe that you're getting recognized for something that you love to do and something that you're passionate about," Mills said.
But, the legacy he has begun to build is what's most important to him.
"That encourages me and gives me the drive to increase the size of our operation and possibly diversify into some other crops," Mills said.
He's now up against farmers from nine other states for the title of Southeast Farmer of the Year.
Only two other Virginia farmers have ever claimed that title.
"To be named the overall winner would be such an achievement," said Mills. "Not specifically for me, because this whole award hasn't been about us. It's been about other farmers and being able to come out and showcase what farmers are doing, not only in Pittsylvania County but throughout the state of Virginia."
Pittsylvania County Extension Agent Stephen Barts says Mills is a perfect example, which is why he nominated him for Virginia Farmer of the Year.
"It's a very diverse operation that has multiple components and is well managed," Barts said.
The Southeast Farmer of the Year will be named at the annual Sunbelt Ag Expo in Georgia in October.
In the meantime, Mills has animals to feed and crops to harvest.
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