What is in this article?:
• As a result of his success as a beef cattle and row crop farmer, Andy Wendland has been selected as the 2011 Alabama winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.
• Wendland now joins eight other state winners from the Southeast as finalists for the award.
He markets his cotton through Autauga Quality Cotton Association, a cooperative that consistently obtains higher than average prices for its members. He uses forward contracts in marketing the grain crops.
Autauga Farming Company raised hogs for many years until local markets collapsed.
“We also ran McQueen Smith Farm Gin until 2007,” he adds.
“From 2000 until 2009, we offered guided deer and quail hunting. We recently leased out the deer hunting land to our hunting customers, but we still offer guided quail hunts through our Bear Creek Hunting Preserve,” he says.
“We have off-farm and farm-related businesses,” says Wendland. “We’re part owners of a John Deere dealer network located in Alabama and Georgia. We also have an on-farm fertilizer business that offers fertilizer, lime and custom application.” His farm also offers custom harvesting and sells hay and wheat straw.
Even at an early age, he realized no farm job was off limits. “Dad always liked to see us working,” he recalls. He remembers picking up tree roots by hand in cleared fields with other local boys.
After he started farming full time in 1989, he worked with cattle and hay, built up cattle numbers and converted cropland to pastures. “We have a 170-acre cotton field behind our office that now grows grass,” he says.
He maintains soil conservation practices and takes other steps to protect the environment.
“When we fed store-bought protein supplements to our cattle, we had plastic containers left over,” he explains. After being turned down by local recycling companies, Wendland persuaded the USAg Recycling firm to come to the farm to grind and recycle thousands of the containers for himself and other local farmers.
Wendland is an alumnus of the Executive Program for Agricultural Producers sponsored by Texas A&M University. He has been active in the Lions Club. He’s president of the Autauga County Farmers Federation, and served on committees dealing with membership, water resources, young farmers, wheat and feed grains for the Alabama Farmers Federation.
He’s a past president of the Autauga County Cattlemen’s Association, and serves on the Alabama Crop Improvement Association board. He also sits on the board of SunSouth, the John Deere dealer network operating in Alabama and Georgia.
He has frequently welcomed school kids and other non-farm groups on tours of his farm.