LITTLE ROCK — Heath and Betsy Long of Tichnor
(Arkansas County) are the 2011 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year,
announced today at a luncheon honoring the county and district Farm
Families of the Year.
They own Long Planting Company, a rice, soybean and wheat
operation near the community of Tichnor, south of DeWitt. Their farm
consists of 2,230 acres of rented land, with 1,137 acres dedicated to
soybeans, 869 acres of rice, and 198 acres of wheat. Heath and Betsy
have two daughters, nine-year-old Shelby and four-year-old Sydney.
Heath is a fourth-generation farmer and was raised on the
family farm. After graduating from Arkansas State University in 1994
with a degree in agriculture he returned home and became a partner with
his parents and brother in Long Farms, Inc. He married Betsy in 1998
and a year later formed Heath Long Farms. They continued to expand the
operation over the next 12 years. Following his mother’s death in 2009,
Heath’s father retired and last year Heath and Betsy formed Long
The Longs have a positive relationship with their
landowners and have worked closely with them in expanding and improving
their operation. They have purchased larger equipment and taken
advantage of new technologies in seed and crop protection products to
improve the efficiency of the farm. To save on energy costs, the Longs
have converted a number of their diesel powered irrigation units to
“Heath and Betsy are another great example of the many
successful and efficient family farming operations that exist in
Arkansas,” said Andy Guffey, coordinator of the Arkansas Farm Family of
the Year program. “By developing positive relationships with his
landowners, Heath has been able to expand his operation over time. They
are diligent protectors of the natural resources used in growing their
crops, and are a prime model of a hard-working, multi-generation farm
Heath is vice president of the Arkansas County Farm Bureau
board of directors and volunteers with the Tichnor Volunteer Fire
department. He is also a member of the Arkansas and USA Rice Councils.
Betsy teaches at Gillett Elementary School and serves in a number of
capacities at Gillett United Methodist Church.
As Arkansas’ Farm Family of the Year, the Longs will compete
in the 2012 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the
Year program. Involving the Farm Families of the Year from 10
southeastern states, the competition concludes with the winner being
named in 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
The Farm Family of the Year program, now in its 66th 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 2011 District Farm Family of the Year winners included:
Jerry and Renee Boeckmann of Wynne (Cross County), Northeast District.
Darick and Leesa Brown of Viola (Fulton County), North Central District.
GC Farms Partnership of Augusta (Woodruff County), East Central District.
Maury and Daleen Hill of Fayetteville (Washington County), Northwest District.
Leslie and Melissa Oates of Pottsville (Pope County) Western District.
Ken and Rhonda Rudder of El Dorado (Union County), Southwest District.
Chris and Lesley Simmons of Arkadelphia (Clark County), West 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