Kent Brown, a fourth-generation rice grower from Hathaway north of Jennings, Louisiana, was named the International Rice Festival’s 2017 Rice Farmer of the Year.
In the late 1800s, Brown’s ancestors, who were Iowa wheat farmers, moved during the historical migration of Midwest farmers to the prairies of southwest Louisiana to begin producing rice.
More than 100 years later, Brown continues to produce rice on the original 450-acre homestead as well as an additional 200 hundred acres of rented farmland for rice and crawfish production.
Brown grew up learning about farming from his father. Following high school graduation in 1974, he began farming full-time.
Over the decades, Kent added efficiency to his operation by purchasing on-farm grain storage and converting to an electric irrigation well.
Now Brown’s son, Eric, will be the fifth generation to farm the family’s ground.
Currently, Brown grows XL 728 and CL 153 as well as Jupiter medium grain. He follows best management practices from Louisiana State University’s AgCenter and incorporates guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Stewardship Program.
For the past 34 years, Kent has been involved with the promotion of the agricultural industry and rice production. He currently sits on the board of Louisiana Agricultural Finance Authority (LAFA); is president of Jeff Davis Parish Farm Bureau Board of Directors; current treasurer of Jeff Davis Parish Rice Growers; current member of Louisiana Rice Promotion Board; current member of Louisiana Farm Bureau Rice Advisory Committee; and current member of Louisiana Farm Bureau Crawfish Committee. That doesn’t count previous positions he has helped for myriad of agricultural groups.
“I believe it is important to be involved in promoting the agricultural industry so people can have a better understanding of importance of agriculture in our nation,” he said in a news release.
Kent’s wife of 35 years is the former Jacquline “Jackie” Doucet of Hathaway, a retired teacher. They have three children and three grandchildren.