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Arkansas speaker-designate has deep Farm Bureau roots

3/25/2014 at 9:22 a.m.


Gillam grows blackberries, muscadines, blueberries, grapes, asparagus and peaches on his more than 700-acre farm in Judsonia.


Arkansas Farm Bureau Public Relations

Last week, State Rep. Jeremy Gillam was elected speaker-designate by his House colleagues. That means Gillam is teed up to be the House leader when the next legislative session convenes next year. Along with the honor and responsibility comes much more work — hard work — and the skills necessary to figure out solutions to difficult problems.

It doesn’t sound much different from a farmer’s job description. And that’s where Jeremy Gillam’s farm experience and some of his experience within Arkansas Farm Bureau will come into play. Gillam grows fruit and asparagus on his farm in Judsonia. He learned by doing when his father dropped him off as a 23-year-old who possessed a good work ethic at the family’s 80-acre farm with the fatherly charge of “figure it out” and drove off.

“Dad knew what he was doing,” Gillam said when interviewed for a Farm Bureau Front Porch magazine article in 2009. “I had to become my own man, learn and do things my own way.” The farm is now more than 700 acres with 300 acres in blackberries. 

Along the way, Gillam gained training and experience with Farm Bureau. In 2008, the Gillams (wife Carissa) won Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award and were runner-up in the national competition. Gillam’s speaking skills were honed for his future political career in YF&R discussion meet competitions. He won the state competition in 2009 and made the national sweet 16 at the American Farm Bureau Federation competition in 2010. With politics in mind, he went through Farm Bureau’s “How to Win an Election” seminar before winning his House seat. He also served on numerous county Farm Bureau committees and has served on American Farm Bureau Federation’s Horticulture Advisory Board and its Labor Advisory Board. And in 2012, he won the Arkansas Farm Bureau Stanley E. Reed Leadership Award.

Speaker-elect Jeremy Gillam’s Farm Bureau roots run deep. Not bad for a young man who got dropped off to figure it out for himself.

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