CASH — Josh Cureton is the sixth generation
of Cureton farmers. “I’ve been farming all my life,” he says. “Growing
up, I was always told I could choose any occupation I wanted. I’ve
always enjoyed farming. That’s what I wanted to do.” Josh, his wife
Melissa and their children, Gracye, 9, Cole, 5, and Mattyx, 2, live at
Cash (Craighead County) where they raise rice and soybeans.
At age 10, Cureton started driving a tractor. From there,
he took on more responsibility each year until he started his own
farming operation in 1999 by renting 200 acres.
In 2009, he entered into a partnership with his father.
Today, he manages his own ground and helps run an additional 3,350
acres on the family farm.
Josh holds a Bachelor of Science degree in plant science
from Arkansas State University. “I use what I learned every day on the
farm,” he says.
Melissa works off farm teaching 8th grade science at
Westside High School in Jonesboro. On the farm, she handles bookkeeping
and paying bills. She also takes lunches and snacks to workers during
planting and harvest and picks up repair parts whenever equipment
Josh has built four 20,000 bushel grain storage bins
expanding the on-farm storage to 360,000 bushels. The on-farm storage
helps avoid long lines at harvest, as well as high storage and drying
fees. It also enables him to take advantage of higher grain prices
months after the harvest.
Re-lift pumps bring water from the Cache River to irrigate
the fields, and a tailwater recovery system collects the runoff to use
again. Cureton constructed numerous pipes, gates and pipelines to
control water within the system. He also recently constructed a 50-acre
reservoir to supply water to the crops during drought and when the
river is low.
In the fall, Josh floods and leases eight fields for duck
hunting to hunters from several states. He typically floods additional
fields to create wildlife habitat. This year Josh plans to increase his
flooded acreage for wintering waterfowl. The leased fields provide
supplemental income and the flooding helps control weeds and erosion.
He is currently secretary of Craighead County Farm Bureau.
“I believe it’s important to be involved with Farm Bureau, so we will
have a voice,” Josh says. “With so few people living on the farm, we
need to tell them what we do here, why we do it and how the world
Melissa is co-chairwoman of the county Farm Bureau women’s
committee and serves with Josh on the Young Farmers & Ranchers
(YF&R) committee and the Ag in the Classroom committee. They’ve
also served in leadership roles in school and church activities.
Now, the Cureton’s join two other finalist-families for the
Arkansas Farm Bureau YF&R Achievement Award. The other
finalist-families are Jeremy and Magen Allen of Bismarck (Hot Spring
County), who have laying hens, cattle and a feed business; 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, four-wheel-drive truck and an expenses-paid
trip to the American Farm Bureau Convention in January in Atlanta to
compete for the national award.