Longs are state Farm Family of the Year
Fourth-generation farmer from Arkansas County earns 2011 honor
Heath and Betsy Long of Tichnor (Arkansas County) are the 2011 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year, announced today at a luncheon honoring the county and district Farm Families of the Year.
They own Long Planting Company, a rice, soybean and wheat operation near the community of Tichnor, south of DeWitt. Their farm consists of 2,230 acres of rented land, with 1,137 acres dedicated to soybeans, 869 acres of rice, and 198 acres of wheat. Heath and Betsy have two daughters, nine-year-old Shelby and four-year-old Sydney.
Heath is a fourth-generation farmer and was raised on the family farm. After graduating from Arkansas State University in 1994 with a degree in agriculture he returned home and became a partner with his parents and brother in Long Farms, Inc. He married Betsy in 1998 and a year later formed Heath Long Farms. They continued to expand the operation over the next 12 years. Following his mother’s death in 2009, Heath’s father retired and last year Heath and Betsy formed Long Planting Company.
The Longs have a positive relationship with their landowners and have worked closely with them in expanding and improving their operation. They have purchased larger equipment and taken advantage of new technologies in seed and crop protection products to improve the efficiency of the farm. To save on energy costs, the Longs have converted a number of their diesel powered irrigation units to electric.
“Heath and Betsy are another great example of the many successful and efficient family farming operations that exist in Arkansas,” said Andy Guffey, coordinator of the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program. “By developing positive relationships with his landowners, Heath has been able to expand his operation over time. They are diligent protectors of the natural resources used in growing their crops, and are a prime model of a hard-working, multi-generation farm family.”
Heath is vice president of the Arkansas County Farm Bureau board of directors and volunteers with the Tichnor Volunteer Fire department. He is also a member of the Arkansas and USA Rice Councils. Betsy teaches at Gillett Elementary School and serves in a number of capacities at Gillett United Methodist Church.
As Arkansas’ Farm Family of the Year, the Longs will compete in the 2012 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year program. Involving the Farm Families of the Year from 10 southeastern states, the competition concludes with the winner being named in October in Moultrie, Ga.
“The Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program is the longest-running farm family recognition program of its type in the United States,” said Arkansas Farm Bureau President Randy Veach, a cotton farmer from Manila (Mississippi County). “We are happy to recognize the fine men and women who work daily to raise crops and care for their livestock, while feeding a growing world population. We congratulate each of the county and district Farm Families of the Year.”
The Farm Family of the Year program, now in its 66th year, begins with selection of the top farm family in each county. Then, eight district Farm Families of the Year are selected. The process concludes with the selection of the state Farm Family of the Year. The competition is judged on production, efficiency and management of farm operations, family life and rural/community leadership and values.