Marty Ross of Delmar and the Alvin Conaway family of Georgetown were honored at the Sussex County Farm Bureau Banquet held Oct. 7 in Bridgeville. Jay Baxter introduced the Conaways as the Sussex County Farm Bureau Farm Family of the Year.
Alvin Conaway grew up in the Depression era when life was rough, but he said, "I wouldn't have changed my childhood for the Rockefellers’." After graduating from Laurel High School where he was active in FFA, Alvin Conaway bought his first farm at the age of 20 in 1948. He and his wife of almost 59 years, Angie, were blessed with two children, Diane (Rogers) and Kenny, four grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Angie passed away in 2007, and eight years ago Conaway married Ruth Hurst.
Conaway is a founder and active member of the Dagsboro Church of God. In addition to farming, Conaway worked part-time as a roofer where he would apply hot asphalt roofs in Rehoboth. When farming was tough and money was tight, he drove oil trucks to help make ends meet. In the 1970s, Conaway got into the hog business.
Baxter summed up the patriarch: "How does one describe Alvin Conaway? The answer is simple, yet powerful: He has big, strong hands that worked the land, yet an even bigger, stronger heart. Faith, family and country. These are three things that describe Alvin Conaway.”
Marty Ross received Sussex County Farm Bureau's Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award, presented by Burt Messick. A lifelong resident of Sussex County, Ross is the co-owner of Ross Bros., a poultry and grain farm near Delmar, where he lives with his wife of 30 years, Chris. Their son Michael is a commercial diver in Thailand.
Ross has served on the Governor's Advisory Council for State Planning Coordination since its inception, and he was a member of the Delaware Energy Task Force formed by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner. He has represented Mid-Atlantic soybean producers as a voting member of the National Biodiesel Board, and in 2004, then-U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman appointed him a director of the U.S. Soybean Board.
Messick said, "Marty is well-known for his support of agriculture, his respect for rural property and his thorough understanding of land-use issues. He has represented Delaware Farm Bureau on several land-use and wetlands committees for legislators and the governor."
Scott Carey of the Carey Agency received the Nationwide Award. Thomas Warren, son of Elizabeth and Tom Warren of Georgetown, won in two 4-H categories of the Sussex County rate of gain competition, for his market lamb and his market hog. Blair Hill, a member of Cape Henlopen High School FFA Chapter, won in the FFA steer category and also was named the 2017 Youth Ambassador for Sussex County Farm Bureau.
Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long took the opportunity during introduction of guests to thank the farmers for all they are doing for Delaware. "I grew up in Sussex, and I know the value of what you do for us," she said. "You are our main industry, our backbone."
Sussex County Farm Bureau President Jesse Vanderwende said county farm bureau leaders have been talking to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and to the Department of Agriculture about deer damage, which he said is as bad as it ever has been. Vanderwende said Delaware Farm Bureau is trying to compile yield data, which will be needed "when we try to make some kind of changes."
State Farm Bureau President Kitty Holtz echoed Vanderwende's remarks. "We need data, pictures, or anything about deer damage." Farmers can email photos and information to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail them, or bring them to Delaware Farm Bureau, 3457 S. DuPont Highway, Camden DE 19934.