Virginia Cooperative Extension and Campbell County are pleased to announce that Walter and Lou Ann Bass of Glady’s Virginia have been selected as the 2024 Sunbelt Farmer of the Year State Winner. The Sunbelt Ag Expo Farmer of the Year recognizes Excellence in Farming across the Southeast. One farmer from each of the participating states is selected and the overall winner will be announced at the 2024 Sunbelt Ag Expo.

Walter and his family have been farming in Campbell County in the town of Glady’s for 57 years. His family farm is a registered century farm having been in the family over one hundred years. They started farming as a traditional tobacco farming operation. After the tobacco buyout, they had to deal with dropping prices and higher input costs such as fertilizer and labor. With the help of his son’s W.B. & Allen in 2005 they decided to invest in sod farming. Their primary farm enterprises consist of irrigated sod, soybeans, and timber. They also produce forty acres of organic soybeans. The Bass family plants a large sunflower field that is not treated as a cash crop, but rather serves as a community function where members of the community and business contacts are invited to hunt doves during the season.

Protecting the environment and improving the land is important to the Bass family. They leave waterways to prevent erosion and participate in the NRCS cover crop program. They use by-products such as wood ash and poultry litter as a nutrient to supplement to reduce input costs. They also use no-till planting on all soybean acreage to protect the watershed. They encourage clients to use sod, rather than seed and straw, for less erosion.

All three of the Bass children participated in the 4-H program growing up and the boys were also highly active in the FFA at William Campbell High School as well as the State Fair of Virginia. The Bass family has served the community in many activities: Glady’s Fire Dept., Campbell County Farm Bureau Committee, Virginia Cooperative Extension Leadership Committee, 4-H Livestock Show supporter, Farm Service Committee and many more.

Congratulations to the Bass family and thank you for representing excellence in Virginia Agriculture!