Applications are being accepted for the Ag Producer of the Year and the Ag Advocate of the Year awards to be presented Oct. 18 during the annual Wayne County Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Luncheon at the Maxwell Center.

The application submission deadline is Sept. 28.

The Ag Producer of the Year will be awarded to a farmer/agribusiness person in Wayne County who has used innovative or sustainable practices to enhance his or her operation during the previous/current year.

The award promotes agricultural growth within Wayne County. Past recipients include West Family Farms and Overman Farms.

The Ag Advocate of the Year will be awarded to an individual within the community who has promoted agriculture in a positive way throughout the year.

The award can be given to a farmer/agribusiness person or a non-agriculture person who supports agriculture. Past recipients include Marlowe Ivey, who is actively involved in the swine industry.

“Wayne County is a significant component in the state, national and global agricultural industry,” said Jennifer Johnson, chair of the Chamber’s Agricultural Affairs Committee and an applied animal science instructor at Wayne Community College.

“We are excited to continue our efforts in promoting the ag community by presenting this annual luncheon which will once again feature a dynamic lineup for the discussion.”

This will be the third annual awards presentation, she said.

There are 551 farms in Wayne County, including three research farms, said Kevin Johnson, Chamber board chairman and Wayne County Extension Service director.

“Agriculture generates over $1 billion for our local economy, and four out of the top 10 county employers are agribusiness,” said Johnson, 2020 recipient of the Agriculture Advocate of the Year award.

For nomination forms, or to RSVP to attend the luncheon, visit waynecountychamber.com or call 919-734-2241.

The Wayne County Agricultural Hall of Fame awards will not be presented during the luncheon and instead will return to the Farm-City Week Banquet that will be held Nov. 22 at the Maxwell Center.

The Hall of Fame awards were presented during the 2020 Agricultural Luncheon after the Farm-City Week Banquet was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hall of Fame was founded in 1984 by the late Lloyd Massey as a means of honoring local residents who have made outstanding contributions to agriculture in Wayne County.

The selection criteria focus on outstanding contributions to agriculture in a managerial, leadership and voluntary capacity, plus the impact in the community of the individual’s efforts on agriculture.

The Outstanding Woman in Agriculture Award, presented by the Wayne County Community and Extension Association, will be awarded during the Farm-City Week Banquet, too.