Morris also produces sugarcane. Farming has been a tradition in the Morris family, so it was not a surprising career choice for him. But the crop he now grows is somewhat new to the family.

“Being a fourth-generation farmer, it kind of came natural to me. We used to be grain farmers, then made the transition to sugarcane at the end of the 1980s. It’s been sugarcane ever since,” Morris said.

Morris grows seed cane for other producers in the area. In order to ensure his seed cane is of the highest quality, Morris employs a strategy that gets the whole family involved.

“If we see stalks of johnsongrass in our seed cane, farmers don’t want that. They don’t want to buy that. So what we do, my wife and I, my parents, we strap on backpack sprayers with Roundup and walk all of our seed cane,” Morris said.

Kieffer is a cattle and hay producer. He also serves as farm manager for another local ranch. It keeps him busy.

“I’ve always had a love for animals, and that’s just the way it’s been with me. I put up all my hay and do all the chores as far as taking care of my cattle. It’s practically a seven-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year job,” Keiffer said.

Kieffer works intensely on ways that improve his operation. He knows that genetics play an important role in improving his herd, and he ensures his cattle graze on the best forage available.

“I’d say artificial insemination is the biggest thing I have done trying to improve my herd. Also, trying to grow better grass for the cattle so they can perform, convert and gain weight without putting it (nutritional supplements) in the feed,” Keiffer said.

For being selected Farmer of the Year, Gravois receives $1,000. For being named finalists, Keiffer and Morris each receive $500.