BISMARCK — Change and trying something
different are the norm at Jeremy and Magen Allen’s Bismarck farm. For
the third year in a row, their innovative approaches to modern-day
farming have them as finalists for Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers
& Ranchers Achievement Award.
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 Dec. 1 at the 77th Arkansas Farm Bureau Convention in
Little Rock. The winning couple will take home a 2012 Ford F-150 Crew
Cab 4x4 truck and an expenses-paid trip to the American Farm Bureau
Convention in January in Hawaii to compete for the national award. The
other finalists for the award include C.J. and Cara Parker of Carlisle,
who grow rice, soybeans and wheat; and Scott and Cassie Davis, who run
a dairy farm in Prairie Grove.
At one time or another, the Allens have run operations for
breeder hens, cow/calves, feeder calves and a custom hay business. All
have been successful. But in the ever-changing economies in the farming
and ranching business, the Allens don’t hesitate to move out of one
operation and change to something better. That’s how they keep their
Right now, the Allens run a five-year-old custom
feed/trucking business providing feed mixes to other cattle ranchers,
as well as feeding their own herd of longhorn cows that Jeremy is
presently breeding to Charolaise bulls. He bought the longhorns with
profit from selling off his feeder calves.
“If the market remains at the current level, the first calf should recover the initial cost of the cow,” Jeremy says.
Jeremy Allen, 31, is a deal maker. Whether he’s on his cell
phone or laptop computer scanning farm auction websites, Craigslist or
e-Bay, he’s always looking for a good deal. That’s how he started his
feed mixing business. He needed a more affordable feed to give his cows
and he found “gin trash” from cotton gins. The trash contained some
seeds, hulls and cotton. A nutrition test showed its nutritional value
was on a par with or better than hay, but its appearance made some of
Jeremy’s first customers skeptical.
“We assured them we would come back and get the gin trash if
their cattle didn’t eat it,” Jeremy recalls. “Luckily, that was never a
Since then, he’s mixed combinations that have included
ingredients like rice hulls, rice dust, rice bran, soybeans,
distillers’ grain, milo, corn, corn gluten, bakers waste and even
breakfast cereal. With this year’s drought and resulting hay shortage,
the Allens can’t keep up with customer demand for their cattle feed
“What began as a way to feed our cattle in a more
cost-effective way has proved to be the best business venture we have
ever dealt with,” Jeremy says. So much so, that last year, Magen, 30,
left her bank job to put her bachelor’s degree in business
administration and finance to work on the farm.
“At this time, the feed business is the life blood of our
operation,” Jeremy says. “It’s kept our farm from being one of the many
struggling to survive.”
The Allens added to their truck and trailer fleet this year,
built additional dry storage (now totaling 16,000 square feet) for
their feed business, added a bigger feed mixer, and purchased a new
bagging system that’s more efficient and helps meet customer demand for
50-lb. bags of feed. With the shortage of hay and farmers having to
use feed for their cattle much earlier than normal this year, the
Allens should beat their sales goal for 2011.
It’s this willingness and ability to adapt and change along
with their innovative approach to farming that makes the Allen’s a
finalist for the third year in a row for Arkansas Farm Bureau’s
YF&R Achievement Award.
Megan Allen believes that willingness to change is critical.
“Whether you’re 35 or 65, you have to be willing to change with the
times in order to survive farming,” she says. Her husband agrees.
“Things change, and you have to be willing to diversify,” Jeremy says. “You have to be willing to change with the times.”
The Allens have two children, Lane, 6, and Brody, 3.