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For Immediate Release

Allens named ARFB young farmer award finalists


Diversity and change key to this ranch family's success

11/17/11

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 farm going.

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 problem.”

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 mixes.

“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.

 

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

From left to right - Jeremy Allen, Lane Allen, 6, Brody Allen, 3, and Megan Allen. Photo by Keith Sutton

 

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

As their feed business grew, Magen Allen left her job at a local bank to put her college degree in business administration to work on the farm. Photo by Keith Sutton

 

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Click Photo for High Resolution Version

Magen and Jeremy Allen check out their herd of 100 longhorns. Photo by Keith Sutton

 

Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization of more than 210,000 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

Gregg Patterson
gregg.patterson@arfb.com
(501) 228-1282
PO Box 31, Little Rock 72203

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