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story.lead_photo.caption The David Pankey Jr. family is the 2014 Independence County Farm Family of the Year. Family members are, front row, from left, Emilee, 6, and Allie, 8; and back row, David and Tiffany Pankey holding, respectively, 4-year-old twins Bradley and Shelby. - Photo by Carol Rolf/Contributing Photographer

OIL TROUGH — David Pankey Jr. grew up on a farm in Oil Trough but went in a different direction after college graduation. In 2007, he got the chance to rent a farm and get back into the business of farming.

“It’s in my blood,” he said.

David and his family — his wife, Tiffany, and their children, Allie, 8; Emilee, 6; and twins Bradley and Shelby, 4 — are the 2014 Independence County Farm Family of the Year. They farm 950 acres, raising rice, corn, soybeans, wheat and grain sorghum.

“We rent most of the land,” he said. “I’d like to start buying or renting more land, but most of the main farms are owned by the heirs of the original farmers. I have told the older landowners to keep me in mind if they decide to sell.

“I think another 500 to 600 acres would be nice,” he said. “That would put me around 1,500 total acres. I think, also, some cattle would be good to go along with my row-crop farming.”

David is the son of Cindy and David Pankey Sr. of Oil Trough. David Sr. still farms in a partnership with his son Matthew. David Jr. also has a sister, Natalie Reynolds, who lives and teaches school in Greenbrier.

“The good thing about having my dad farming is that I did not have to buy every piece of equipment I needed that first year because I could borrow his,” David said. “I don’t see how someone could get started farming without having family already in the farming business.”

David said he enjoys his crops, especially corn.

“It’s a fun crop,” he said. “You can almost see it grow. I’m hoping to get better yields in the future.”

David is a graduate of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, where he received a degree in agriculture business. After graduation, he worked for a seed and chemical company for eight years.

Tiffany grew up in Sydney, the daughter of Tim and Linda Bradley, and is a graduate of Arkansas State University-Jonesboro, where she earned a degree in nursing. She is a registered nurse and works part time as the school nurse for the Cedar Ridge School District, where her children are students, and at the Arkansas Surgery Center in Batesville.

In the future, David hopes to irrigate more of his crops. His ultimate goal in farming is to pass down the farm to his children.

“I have four kids, so one of them might want to farm,” he said. “Allie is already learning to drive the pickup truck. I was driving by the time I was 8.

“There is no better road to learn to drive on than that at the end of a turnrow.”

Asked what he would like to be doing in 15 years, David answered, “I want to still be farming.

“My goal is to get more acreage that my boy and girls can farm if they want to. I also would hope that all my kids are still healthy and are in college or have graduated from college.”

David said he chose agriculture as a way of life for several reasons.

“I love to be my own boss,” he said with a smile. “I love to plant seeds and watch them grow. It’s a challenge to make a good yield. I love it. I grew up with it.”

Tiffany also grew up on a farm, with her family raising beef cattle and chickens.

“A farm is a good place to raise kids,” she said. “We want to be in the country. Our kids love being here. We enjoy the simple things in life.”

The Pankey children have two horses, some ducks, chickens and dogs. David said the older children are getting ready for 4-H activities. Allie and Emilee also play softball and take piano lessons.

As a family, the Pankeys enjoy deer hunting in the fall and camping on Greers Ferry Lake.

David is a member of the Farm Service Agency’s county committee. Tiffany is involved in a wellness committee for the community and previously taught Sunday School.

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