2 rice producers among Arkansas Farm Family of the Year district winners

Arkansas Farm Family of the YearThe eight district winners in the 72nd annual Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program have been selected, representing the diversity of Arkansas agriculture, the state’s largest industry.

The district winners will now be judged to determine a state winner, which will be  announced Dec. 6 at the Farm Family of the Year luncheon at the Wyndham Hotel in North Little Rock.

The District Farm Families of the Year are:

► I.F. Anderson Farms Inc. of Lonoke (Lonoke County) in the East Central District. James Neal Anderson and his wife Kaye own and operate I.F. Anderson Fish Farms with their son James Neal Anderson Jr. They operate 3,300 water acres and raise baitfish such as golden shiners, fathead minnows and goldfish. James and Kaye also have a daughter, Katie.

►  Rabbit Ridge Farms of Bee Branch (Van Buren County) in the North Central District. Alan and Angela Mahan own and operate Rabbit Ridge Farms where they raise cattle, hogs, chickens and sheep. At Rabbit Ridge Farms, they self-market all their products through wholesale distributors, retail, e-commerce, social media and through their agritourism business. They have four children, Zach Mahan, Maggie Mahan, Jacob Blankenship and Crafton Blakenship.

►  Young’s Generation Three Partnership Farms of Tuckerman (Jackson County) in the Northeast District. Tommy and Amy Young, Blake and Holly Young, and James Norman III and Brandy Young are partners in the farm. They grown soybeans, corn, wheat and rice on more than 7,000 acres. This year is the 10th anniversary of the family’s partnership in the farm.

►  Gene and Ruby Davidson of Kingston (Newton County) in the Northwest District. For the past 39 years, the Davidsons have raised turkeys, run a cow/calf operation and own a logging company that cuts select hardwoods. They have two adult children Dustin and Sam.

►  Dewayne and Debra Goldmon of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in the Southeast District. The Goldmons grow corn, rice and soybeans on 1,400 acres. Dewayne works full-time for Bayer Crop Sciences in technology development and research while also farming “part-time” for 22 years. The couple have two adult children, Camille and Dewayne Jr.

►  Allen and Barbara Primm of Hampton (Calhoun County) in the Southwest District. The Primms have operated a cattle farm for nearly 50 years as well as a timber operation. Their latest venture is Blackstock Feed, Fertilize and Herbicide, a non-profit established with the intent to offer farm supplies at a wholesale to ensure farmers and ranchers are not overpaying for needed supplies. The Primms have three adult children, Scott, Allison and Jessica.

►  Jerry and Kathy DuVall of Hattieville (Conway County) in the Western District. The DuValls operate 1,400 acres that consists of several commodities. They grow hay, timber, corn and soybeans while also raising cattle and poultry. They have three adult children and five grandchildren.

►  The Greene Family of Umpire (Howard County) in the West Central District. Gregg and Shelly, along with their sons and daughters-in-law, Mason and Lindsay, and Marcus and Krystal raise poultry for Pilgrims with a total of 23 broiler houses. They also raise calves marketed at livestock auctions. Separately, Gregg and Shelly operate a hog production business where they have 700 sows.

“The contributions made by our state’s farm families are beyond measure,” says Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau. “It is almost impossible to fully understand the impact our family farms have on the economy, our rural communities and to the character of our great state.”

The Farm Family of the Year program begins each year with selection of top the farm families in each county and culminates with the selection of the state Farm Family of the Year who will then go on to represent Arkansas at the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year competition in Georgia.

This year, Chris and Judy Isbell of Humnoke, Arkansas, will represent Arkansas in the Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest in October. The Isbells have cultivated rice in Lonoke County for more than 70 years and currently grow 3,000 acres of the crop. Isbell Farms is a fifth-generation family operation and partners include Chris and Judy Isbell, their son Mark and wife Marda, their daughter Whitney and husband Jeremy Jones, and their nephew Shane Isbell and wife Lisa.

Arkansas has had two Southeastern Farmers of the Year, Brian Kirksey of Clark County in 2008 and Wildy Family Farms of Mississippi County in 2016. All winners are judged on their farm production, efficiency, management, family life and rural/community leadership.

“No other business sector has a larger economic impact in Arkansas than agriculture,” Veach says. “The men and women of agriculture, and their families, work diligently every day to maintain a business and a lifestyle that represents the very best our state has to offer.”

Sponsors of the Farm Family of the Year program are Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and the three Farm Credit agencies that serve Arkansas: AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas and Midsouth Farm Credit. Additionally, support for the program is provided by the Arkansas Agriculture Department, Arkansas Department of Career Education, Arkansas Press Association, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development.

The Arkansas Farm Bureau contributed this article.

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