George E. Baird IV, a partner in a Collierville, Tenn., land management firm, has been named Professional Farm Manager of the Year by the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.

Baird, a co-founder of the Baird and Brunson Land Management Group, received the award during the ASFMRA’s annual meeting in Atlanta. ASFMRA held its annual meeting in conjunction with the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants and American Society of Agricultural Consultants.

Baird and partner Steve Brunson currently manage about 40,000 acres in the Mississippi River Delta Region for over 70 clients, offering them professional farm management and real estate services. Brunson credits Baird’s commitment to quality as a key reason for their success.

“George’s perseverance and desire to form a quality company have really helped us build our business,” Brunson said. “We’ve grown almost beyond our expectations and anticipate continuing to build a solid farm management firm here in the Mid-South.”

Baird manages a wide variety of crops including soybeans, rice, cotton, sorghum and corn. With each farm he manages, his goal is to help his clients develop long-term plan for their land.

“Probably the most exciting part of my job is being able to work with people directly,” he said, “especially when they realize the possibilities of their farms, and we can help them develop plans that will meet their long-term goals and objectives.”

In helping them make long-term plans, Baird encourages his clients to protect their land for future generations through capital improvements and conservation. On many of the farms he manages, he has implemented tailwater recovery systems and reservoirs, precision land leveling, wildlife and forestry stewardship programs, reduced-tillage systems, and residue management.

“Key to raising good rice is reservoir water, and we can recycle every bit of water that comes on that farm,” said Louis Pope, co-owner of two Arkansas rice farms that Baird manages. “George was very instrumental in that and helped us win a 1999 waterfowl stewardship award.”

Baird predicts an even greater demand for professional farm managers over the next few years as the current generation of landowners transfers an enormous amount of wealth to the next generation.

“Many times land is passed down to people who are several generations removed from the property, but they want to hang on to that property as an asset,” he said. “I think as we move forward, people need to be aware that professional farm managers exist, and that we are complete agriculture asset managers who can handle everything dealing with the farm from land development and management to property rental and real estate sales.”

Baird continues to hone his skills as a professional farm manager by participating in the ASFMRA at the state, regional and national levels. He was the Arkansas chapter president in 2000 and is currently the Tennessee chapter vice president.

“I would say to all of those who are just becoming accredited or are looking to begin the accreditation process, ‘Go for it,’” he said. “My involvement with the American Society has opened unlimited opportunities to what we can do going forward.”

Tony Windham, secretary of the association’s Arkansas chapter and assistant director of the Division of Ag Cooperative Extension Service at the University of Arkansas, said that Baird not only represents the farm management industry well, but also the American agricultural industry as a whole.

“His understanding of agricultural production and policy alone makes him a good ambassador for agriculture as he travels around the country,” he said.

“People need to know the story of agriculture and what the American farmer brings to the table, not only in feeding the country but in feeding the world,” says Baird.

Besides the ASFMRA, the Professional Farm Manager of the year award is sponsored by Syngenta and AgProfessional magazine.

“George is a true leader among professional farm managers and an inspiration to all of us in the agricultural industry,” said Brent Rockers, marketing manager for Syngenta. “He will continue to positively impact the lives of both current and future generations of Americans through his stewardship of our most precious asset — the land.”

The award ceremony was also attended by Baird’s wife, Cari, and two sons, Evans and Wilson, and his partner, Brunson.