LITTLE ROCK – The eight district winners in the 70th 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 to be announced Dec. 7 at the Farm Family of the Year luncheon at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock.
The district winners are:
• Chris and Heather Tharp of Floral (Independence County) in the North Central District. The Tharps operate on 850 acres and have a cow-calf operation, broiler houses and a commercial litter service. They have five children, Colton, Ainsley, Kylie, Lily and Reese.
• Gittlein Farms of Maysville (Benton County) in the Northwest District. Garrett and Amanda have a custom haying and spraying service and they raise registered Black Angus cattle. Their operation also includes litter spreading and litter house cleanout. The Gittleins have two children, Mason and Colson.
• Eddie and Annette Wray of Trumann (Poinsett County) in the Northeast District. Eddie and Annette have a diversified crop operation, raising soybeans, cotton, rice and corn. They have four children, Jamie, Stephen, Ashley and James.
• Brandon and Jessica Chapman of Scott (Pulaski County) in the East Central District. The family raises soybeans, watermelon, tomatoes and cantaloupes. Their operation also includes an agritourism attraction called “Scott Pumpkin Patch.” The Chapmans have two children, Raylei and Brantley.
• Cedar Corner Farm of Stuttgart (North Arkansas County) in the Southeast District. Jason Smith and Chris Dickson are partners in Cedar Corner Farms. Smith and Dickson raise 2,689 acres of rice, soybeans and wheat. Smith and his wife Cheryl have two children, Jaycie and Jonathan. Dickson and his wife, DeAnne, have two daughters, Kaylee and Dee.
• Rocking CK Farms of Garland (Miller County) in the Southwest District. Chase and Krystal Groves of Rocking CK Farms raise 360 acres of soybeans and corn. Their operation also includes custom grazing, registered and commercial cattle and pecans. The Groves have two children, Gentry and Cash.
• Luke and DeeDee Alston of Mena (Polk County) in the Western District. The Alston family has a diversified operation ranging from strawberries and sweet corn, to cattle, broiler houses and even honeybees. They also have a six-acre corn maze. The Alstons have two children, Ryan and Drey.
• Will and Sidney Bailey of De Queen (Sevier County) in the West Central District. The Baileys have a hay operation, a cow/calf operation and raise broilers. They have two children, Lynnlee and Benjamin.
“The contributions made by our state’s farm families are beyond measure,” said Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau. “While collectively, agriculture makes up our state’s largest business sector, it is almost impossible to calculate the impact our family farms have on the economy, our rural communities and to the character of our great state.”
These farm families represent a great cross-section of Arkansas agriculture, from row-crops to livestock to fresh produce and honey production. We congratulate each of these district winners on their recognition.
The Farm Family of the Year program begins each year with selection of top 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. 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 said. 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, Armor Seed, 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.
Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization of more than 190,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.