LITTLE ROCK — Michael and Sarah Oxner of
Searcy (White County) are the 2010 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year,
announced today at a luncheon honoring the county and district Farm
Families of the Year.
They own Red River Farms near Bald Knob. Their operation
consists of 6,080 acres of owned and rented land, with 2,700 acres
dedicated to rice, 2,100 acres of soybeans, 300 acres of corn and 280
acres of cotton, as well as a 700-acre impoundment for wildlife. Michael
and Sarah have three children, 5-year-old Mary Frances, 3-year-old
Laura Grace and 2-year-old Paten.
Michael began farming at the age of 10 when, with the help
of his grandfather, he planted two acres of soybeans. He began farming
fulltime 22 years ago and now rents land in the Bald Knob National
Wildlife Refuge, where he grows rice, millet, corn and native grasses,
providing food for wildlife. They flood the fields in fall for public
hunting and to provide a sanctuary for migratory waterfowl.
Michael irrigates his crops with surface water re-lifted
from the Little Red River, which is pumped into a system of irrigation
canals. There are no subsurface wells used on their farm for irrigation
purposes. Additionally, Red River Farms has on-farm storage capacity
of 440,000 bushels, which provides the family with options for marketing
“The Oxner family is a wonderful example of the effective,
efficient farming operations that exist in Arkansas,” said Andy Guffey,
coordinator of the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program. “They are
diligent protectors of the natural resources used in producing their
crops, and provide a model of today’s modern farm, with a mixture of
science, technology and old-fashioned hard work.”
As Arkansas’ Farm Family of the Year, the Oxners will compete
in next year’s Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the
Year program. The competition is held each 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.
“Farm families are the foundation of our state’s economy and
culture. For more than 60 years, the Farm Family of the year program
has showcased outstanding agriculture, and everyone should take pride
in the wonderful men and women of agriculture.”
The Oxners also maintain five tractor trailer trucks to haul
grain, gravel and fertilizer, as well as offer custom-hauling for
others, supplementing their farm income. Michael and Sarah each earned
graduate degrees, and are both active in a number of community and
state organizations. The couple donated land for a house built by
Habitat for Humanity of White County.
The Farm Family of the Year program, now in its 65th 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.
The 2010 District Farm Family of the Year winners included:
Jeremy and Leslie Allmon of Murfreesboro (Pike County), West Central District.
Randy and Anjie Cockrum of Rudy (Crawford County), Northwest District.
Darrell and Jennifer Ford of Hope (Hempstead County), Southwest District.
Larry and Marilyn Huddleston of Waldron (Scott County), Western District.
Lammers Farm Partnership of Manila (Mississippi County), Northeast District.
Curt and Ellen Rankin of Lake Village (Chicot County), Southeast District.
Mark and Nancy Satterfield of Norfork (Baxter County), North Central District.
Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Arkansas Press Association, the
Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, AgHeritage FCS, Farm Credit of
Western Arkansas, and Farm Credit MidSouth are sponsors of the annual
recognition program. Additional program support is provided by the
Arkansas Department of Career Education; the University of Arkansas
Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service; and the USDA’s
Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Rural