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For Immediate Release

Allens named ARFB young farmer award finalists

Hot Spring County farm family proves adaptability is everything

11/16/2010 at 12:00 a.m.


BISMARCK — Like most good businesses, Jeremy Allen’s farm continues evolving. Since purchasing his first herd of cattle in 1995, at the age of 14, he’s changed the scope and focus of his operation multiple times. He’s kept his assets diverse and his enterprise flexible and nimble; traits that have helped him weather bad markets and plant his foot in emerging ones.

“We’re into everything,” Allen says. “I mean you can’t just do one thing anymore. You’ve got to have cattle, chickens, the whole nine yards. The only way we can make it work is to diversify.”  

When Allen, now 30, purchased those first cows, he was starting from scratch. That herd helped him establish credit, which later helped him buy his first home and, of course, more cows. In 2005, two years after he and his wife, Magen, were married, he decided to try his hand at poultry and bought a two-house laying hen farm. That first year, the couple grew 3.5 million eggs under a contract for the Keith Smith Company.

Frustrated with the high cost of cattle feed in 2007, Allen’s thoughts turned to gin trash, a waste by-product of the cotton ginning process. Working on a hunch, he acquired some of this refuse and sent it off for nutrition testing.

“Ordinarily, the trash is just spread back over the cotton fields,” he says. “But, because it contained some seeds, hulls and cotton, I hoped the tests would prove it had benefit as feed.”

The tests proved him right, so shortly afterward, he bought a tractor-trailer and started hauling the “trash” from several central Arkansas cotton gins to his own farm. Allen, pleased with the effect on his herd, started marketing this newfound bargain feed to other ranchers. After some initial skepticism, it took off.   

Today, Allen runs a large-scale feed business, mixing and hauling all sorts of things other people throw away:  rice hulls, dust and bran; distillers’ grains; soy hulls; even leftover product from a breakfast cereal mill in Memphis. They’ve got a whole fleet of trucks and trailers; a 13,000 square-foot storage barn; mixing, loading and bagging equipment; and a pellet mill. The operation services more than 300 regular customers with millions of pounds of feed changing hands each year. In May, Magen left her job with Summit Bank in Arkadelphia, so she could help Jeremy keep up with the steadily increasing demand.

“The feed business has become the life blood of our operation,” Allen says. “Without it, we would’ve struggled to survive hard times in the cattle and poultry industry.”

In addition to saving his farm, Allen’s innovative ideas and commitment to adaptability garnered some outside attention. This year, he and Magen are one of the three finalist-families in Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Achievement Award competition. The other finalists are Josh and Melissa Cureton of Cash (Craighead County), who produce rice and soybeans; and Brian and Elizabeth Walker of Horatio (Sevier County), who run cow-calf, feeder calves and broiler operations.

The YF&R Achievement Award honors young farmers and ranchers across the state for their hard work, innovation, progress and the general excellence of their operations. The winner of the award will be announced at the 76th Arkansas Farm Bureau Convention, which takes place Dec. 1-3 in Hot Springs. The winning couple will take home a Chevrolet 1500 quad cab truck and an expenses-paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Convention in January in Atlanta to compete for the national award.

Jeremy and Magen have both been extremely active in Farm Bureau and its YF&R program. Jeremy has been on the Hot Spring County Farm Bureau Board of Directors since 2005 and has led the county organization’s YF&R committee since 2004. He and Magen served as chairmen of the statewide YF&R committee from 2007-2008, a position which gave Jeremy an ex-officio seat on the ArFB board. He is currently a member of that board’s Trade Advisory Committee.

“We’ve benefitted a great deal from our involvement in Farm Bureau,” Magen says. “If we hadn’t started it years ago, I don’t think we’d be as far along as we are now. We’ve met so many great people; people who’ve helped us grow as leaders.”

The Allens have two sons:  Lane, 5, and Brody, 2.

 

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Jeremy and Magen Allen of Bismarck; along with their two children – Lane, 5; and Brody, 2 – were chosen as one of the three finalist-families in Arkansas Farm Bureau's Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award competition.

 

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Jeremy Allen collects loose eggs in one of the farm's two hen houses. The birds in these houses produce about 4 million eggs a year for the Keith Smith Company.

 

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Magen Allen helps one of the operation's farm hands polish and sort eggs as they come off the hen house's conveyer belt. They have six full-time and three part-time workers.

 

Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization of almost 220,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.

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For more information contact:

Steve Eddington
steve.eddington@arfb.com
(501) 228-1383
PO Box 31, Little Rock 72203

or

Chris Wilson
chris.wilson@arfb.com
(501) 228-1236
PO Box 31, Little Rock 72203

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