The Hill Family, owners of Tull Hill Farms of Lenoir County, N.C., were recently honored as the Farm Family of the Year by the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina. The award was made during the association's Annual Meeting at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, Feb. 1.
In making the presentation, TGANC's immediate past president Craig West noted that leadership is a learned trait but that, "using one's leadership in a positive manner is a practice, and we believe it is an effort worthy of recognition."
West pointed out that the Hills are known not only for their high quality tobacco, but also for lending a helping hand to their neighbors whenever it is needed.
"So let us define successful farming, not by who tends the most acres or by the greatest volume of equipment in the yard or by the most modern technology in place," West said, "but on a yardstick of sacrifice to help others, efforts to advance the right cause for the greatest number and leadership to seek and achieve results to help the industry as a whole."
The family is led by brothers, Jimmy and Kendall Hill, who started farming with their father, Tull, for whom the farm is named.
Jimmy made comments for the family in acceptance of the award. He noted that when tobacco industry came under fire and began to fall into trouble and disarray some years ago farmers would ask him what he thought would come out of it. Today, they're still asking him the same question.
"Some of the farmers will ask me, Jimmy, where do you see tobacco, 15 or 20 years down the road? I'll tell them the answer I gave then is the same one that I will give now.
"At that time I said, 'I really think tobacco 15 years from now will be just as important, or more important, to the farmers that are growing tobacco. I do believe there will be fewer farmers and that they will be larger and more efficient entities. …it will be important as a state economic contributor."
All the Hills actively serve the community. Jimmy served on the Presidential Study Commission known as Tobacco At A Crossroads. He has also served on the Tobacco Foundation and is current public director of U.S. Tobacco Cooperative Inc. Kendall Hill serves on the Board of the N.C. Agribusiness Council and the N.C. Friends of Agriculture Foundation. Family member Michael Hill is active in the Lenoir County Farm Bureau leadership and Rob Hill serves as a director on the TGANC Board.