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For Immediate Release

Parkers named ARFB young farmer award finalists


Management and crop diversity key young family's success

11/17/11

CARLISLE — C.J. and Cara Parker of Carlisle will tell you blessings from above and hard work are critical to farming success. For the second time in three years, those factors along with C.J.’s deft management skills and diversity of crop choices, have them as finalists for Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award.

This award honors young farm families 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 Jeremy and Magen Allen of Bismarck, who raise cattle and operate a custom feed and trucking business on the farm; and Scott and Cassie Davis, who run a dairy farm in Prairie Grove.

The Parkers grow rice – long grain and medium grain – as well as soybeans and winter wheat, the latter two C.J. also grows for seed stock. “Diversity makes for a healthy farm by spreading the risks between different markets,” he says. “Half of our wheat is grown for seed, and the other half is grown as mill wheat. We grow oil and seed beans. The seed beans offer extra value by getting a premium for the seed.”

C.J., 34, thinks the strength of the farm is in its management, a duty he shares with Cara. “Managing is where I think we shine. It’s the most important aspect of our farming operation,” he says. He maintains detailed records on each crop and the ground where it grows. “My wife and I share these duties.”

Cara, 34, works fulltime on the farm now, and handles all the bill paying, bookkeeping and even buys parts for equipment and runs other errands. She also books the hunts for the family duck guiding service the Parkers run during the winter on the farm. She did not grow up on a farm but has come to love the way of life.

“It’s very gratifying. I love the fact that we’re raising our kids on the farm,” she says. “I definitely think it teaches you a work ethic.” The Parkers have three children, Clay, 13, Caleb, 10, and Caty, 8.

The Parkers started farming with 200 acres in 1998 and now farm 4,500. “We’ve been very blessed. We made strides by taking on rough ground and working really hard, and people saw that and believed in us,” C.J. says. “They saw that we worked hard, and we’ve been able to pick up some of the better ground when the opportunity became available.”  

 

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C.J. and 8-year-old Caty Parker on the farm. Photo by Keith Sutton

 

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Clay Parker, 13, and his brother Caleb, 10, check soybean plants. Photo by Keith Sutton

 

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C.J. and Cara Parker with their children Caleb, Clay and Caty. 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

chris.wilson@arfb.com
chris.wilson@arfb.com
(501) 228-1236
PO Box 31, Little Rock 72203

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