Shawn and Audra Efurd of the Efurd Farm in the Dayton Community have been chosen as Sebastian County’s Farm Family of the Year for 2014. The announcement was made on Monday, June 9 by Jesse Bocksnick of the Sebastian County Extension Office and Sherrell McFadden of the Sebastian County Farm Bureau. These organizations are the chief sponsors of the Farm Family of the Year program in Sebastian County.

Bocksnick has been a huge supporter of local farming and especially the Farm Family of the Year program. "This program has grown not only into a recognition program, but also a way to educate the public on the care that these commodities are grown with. Most people don’t realize that 98% of the farms in the United States are still family owned and ran operations," he explained. "These men and women put a lot on the line and work hours that most people wouldn’t if they were getting extra pay to. Even with the spare time that they do find, these folks go out and help and assist their communities and neighbors for no pay and little thanks."

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 68 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.

The Efurd Farm markets both chickens and cattle, but they also raise horses, goats and dogs. Shawn Efurd is the primary worker on the farm, but with help from his family, he produces over 300,000 broilers per year for Tyson.

"All broilers produced at our farm are marketed through our contract with Tyson Foods. Marketing through Tyson enables us to reach a worldwide audience," Efurd stated.

In addition to broiler chickens, they also market Angus Beef and Charolais Cross Beef cattle. "We market our beef cattle through our local livestock auction house. Our farm operates primarily on a stocker cattle production schedule," Efurd explained. "All breeding is done year round to ensure a constant supply of new calves being born. We take calves to market monthly, once they reach their target weight."

The Efurd Farm is in process of transitioning the cattle herd to 100% Red Angus.

Shawn Efurd is a second generation cattle and poultry farmer. The farm he currently owns and operates is the one he grew up on. His father still lives at the farm and they work together daily. Both Shawn and Audra have been deeply involved in community activities. They are members of or involved in the Sebastian County Fair Board, the NRCS Board, the Dayton Baptist Church, Mansfield FFA, Dayton 4-H, Farm Bureau, Farmer’s Cooperative, AR/OK Fair, Hay Producers Club, Community Clearinghouse Guild and other local pageants and school activities.

"Our entire family believes in the motto of faith, family and friends," Audra Efurd said. "We believe that faith comes first and then family and friends. We are very active in our church and believe that the cornerstone of every family is the church. We are very active in our church, Dayton Baptist. Shawn is a deacon and I am involved in the ladies ministry."

The Efurd’s have several plans for future improvement and growth for the Efurd Farm. They plan to add a cattle working facility, including a round pen and head chute to improve the cattle working and vaccinating experience. These improvements will also allow greater ease in loading cattle for the market. The round pen and head chute would also allow the implementation of an artificial insemination program to improve the quality of the herd.

In the chicken houses, they plan to improve the energy efficiency by replacing the lighting with LED bulbs and to replace the fans for better air flow. These improvements would increase the growth of the broilers. They also plan to connect the controllers in the houses to their home computer.