“I grew up on this farm,” says Pate. “Not everyone has the opportunity to play in a creek, run across an open field, pet a cow and just become one with nature and your surroundings. We haven’t made this farm. It has made us.”

Robert Burns with University of Tennessee Extension is state coordinator of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards.

Blount County Extension agent John Wilson nominated Pate for the award. “Mac is a farmer, a friend and an individual who has remained constant in his determination to be a successful farmer and leader,” says Wilson.

“He is a strong presence in the local agricultural community as well as a respected agricultural leader at both the state and national level. Anyone who can get up at 3:30 in the morning every day for 50 years to milk cows is tops in my book.”

As the Tennessee state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo award, Pate will now receive a $2,500 cash award and an expense paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla., a jacket and a $200 gift certificate from the Williamson-Dickie Company, and a $500 gift certificate from Southern States. 

He is also now eligible for the $15,000 that will go to the overall winner. Other prizes for the overall winner include the use of a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year from Massey Ferguson North America, a custom made Canvasback gun safe from Misty Morn Safe Co., and another $500 gift certificate from the Southern States cooperative.

Also, Williamson-Dickie will provide another jacket, a $500 gift certificate and $500 in cash to the overall winner.