BY LEANN DILBECK –
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.
Locally, Luke and DeeDee Alston of Mena were named for the Western District. The Alston family had been named as Polk County’s Farm Family of the Year and featured in the June 14 issue of The Polk County Pulse. The Alstons have 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.
The Alstons were humbled by the continued recognition, “So many hard working farm families are just good people and would be deserving of this recognition. We feel extremely blessed to be honored for doing what we love to do day in and out.”
The Alstons will now advance as contenders for the State Farm Family of the Year honor.
“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.
The district winners will now be judged to determine a state winner to be announced December 7 at the Farm Family of the Year luncheon at the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel in North Little Rock.