Farm Bureau honors anchor Neesey Payne and other news professionals

Neesey Payne

Farm Bureau honors Roanoke anchor for agricultural coverage; other news professionals recognized as well

Neesey Payne, an anchor for television station WDBJ7 in Roanoke, captured Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s 2021 Ishee-Quann Award for Media Excellence, the top honor in Farm Bureau’s annual Journalism Awards program.

Payne also won in the award program’s television category for a third consecutive year. Her work includes Grown Here at Home, an energetic ongoing series of farm profiles and seasonal stories tied to local agriculture.

Her work in the past year has included stories on fish farming and Gypsy Vanner horses in Bedford, strawberry farming in Gretna, and alpaca fiber from Catawba, along with milk marketed for consumers who cannot enjoy traditional dairy products, and the environmental merits of rotational grazing.

The Ishee-Quann Award is named in part for Jeff Ishee, who operates On the Farm, a daily, web-based farm news service, and who is a recipient of numerous VFBF Journalism Awards. The late Homer Quann was WSVA radio’s farm news director for several decades and was known as the most dedicated agricultural reporter in Virginia.

VFBF Journalism Awards recognize exemplary ongoing coverage of agriculture issues, practices and events by print and broadcast news operations.

In the daily newspaper category, staff at Harrisonburg’s Daily News-Record emerged victorious, with coverage of a significant watershed anniversary and Rockingham Cooperative’s centennial, state legislation with significant implications for Shenandoah Valley farms, and efforts to make farm-fresh products available to families in need.

For a 15th time in the award program’s history—and a sixth consecutive year—staff at the Kilmarnock-based Rappahannock Record submitted the winning entry in the category for weekly and semi-weekly newspapers. Rappahannock Record coverage in the past year has included Virginia Century Farms on the Northern Neck, assessment of the region’s 2021 wheat crop, the 2021 Virginia Ag Expo in Middlesex County, and production of grain grown specifically for brewing beer.

A special Members’ Choice Award was presented to Kathleen Borrelli and Terry Beigie of the Greene County Record in Stanardsville. Members’ Choice Award recipients are nominated by leaders from county Farm Bureaus, and Borrelli’s and Beigie’s work was nominated by Greene County Farm Bureau President Joanne Burkholder. She cited their commitment to ensuring that each week’s paper includes agricultural content.

Honorable mentions went to reporter Casey Fabris of The Roanoke Times, and to Middleburg-based Country Zest & Style magazine.

With 132,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to supporting Virginia’s agriculture industry.