The Williams family of the Dayton Community has been chosen as Sebastian County’s Farm Family of the Year for 2013, representatives of Sebastian County Farm Bureau and the Sebastian County Extension Office have announced. These organizations are chief sponsors of the Farm Family of the Year program in Sebastian County.

First established in 1947, Arkansas’ Farm Family of the Year program is the longest running effort of its kind in the nation. The program sponsors are Arkansas Farm Bureau, Farm Credit Services of Western Arkansas, Farm Credit Midsouth, ACA, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services and the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, with the cooperation of the program partners Arkansas Press Association, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, USDA Rural Development, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Arkansas Department of Workforce Education and the Arkansas Agriculture Department.

For 67 years, the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year Program has given recognition and encouragement to farm families who are doing an outstanding job on their farm and in their community. The program also serves to help spread information on improved farm practices and management as well as recognize the importance of agriculture in the community and in the state.

Len and Tammie Williams, along with their children, Jared and Breanna, raise cattle, hay, sheep and goats on 420 acres in the Dayton community, just south of Greenwood. This farm is truly a family enterprise. Len’s parents, Lendal and Joyce Williams and Tammie’s parents, Bud and Ludella Braselton also help out on the farm. Len and Tammie’s grandchildren, Dakota, Harper and Rhilynn also help by showing animals at fairs.

"Family is your most valuable asset in farming today," Tammie Williams said.

The Williams family currently raises both Registered Charolais and Crossbred cattle. The calves are weaned and vaccinated in the spring and fall and are then sold at regional livestock markets in the area. The calves are weaned at approximately 600-650 lbs. They have 20 Registered Charolais and 124 Crossbred. They also raise Registered Hampshire and crossbred sheep. The sheep are sold for show animals as well as for meat production. The lambs are sold through local markets and private treaty. Three pygmy goats were recently acquired to give the grandchildren experience with animals and an opportunity to show at fairs and other competitions. Other animals include chickens, donkeys, cats and dogs.

Hay is baled every year and Len Williams expects around 600 round bales this year. The hay is used to feed the livestock through the winter months with any excess being sold to local producers.

The Williams family tries to stay up to date with innovative farming techniques. They use solar power for their electric fences and have adopted a tire watering system for livestock. Old tractor tires are being used in a gravity fed well system to provide a constant supply of cool water for cattle. Tire dealerships often give away old tires rather than pay a disposal fee, reducing the cost dramatically.

Jared and Breanna were both extremely active in 4-H and FFA. They have shown animals at local, county, state and national levels and had each served as president of their local 4-H club. They have each won championship awards at various levels. Jared received the Arkansas State Grand Champion award with his Charolais bull and Breanna received a Supreme Ewe award as well as a scholarship to college.

The Williams family is also extensively involved with a myriad of community activities. They are active members of Fellowship Baptist Church, Sebastian County Fair, Day 4-H, Sebastian County Cattlemen, Mansfield FFA Alumni, Sebastian County Farm Bureau, Arkansas/Oklahoma Fair, Arkansas Charolais Association, Hangin’ Judge Spring Livestock, Sebastian County 4-H, 4-H and FFA Rabies Clinic as well as various co-ops.

"This list kind of downplays how much this family helps. They have spent endless hours helping people," explained Jesse Bocksnick, County Extension Agent with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension office.

In addition to running the farm and their community involvement, Len and Tammie Williams also work full time jobs. Len is with the State Highway Department and Tammie works for ABF.

The Williams family has also been named the Northwest District Farm Family of the Year. "That puts them into the elite eight, so to speak. Out of those eight, the State Farm Family of the Year will be chosen," Bocksnick reported.

State judging will occur between July 8 and July 11.

Farms account for most of the food we eat. Explaining the benefits of the Farm Family of the Year program, Bocksnick added, "With all of the public perceptions of agriculture across the nation, this program allows everyone to see that 98 percent of the farms in the United States are still family owned and operated."