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Farm families of 2022 selected

by Special to The Commercial | May 16, 2022 at 3:51 a.m.
Ekko Barnhill (left) and Carlotta Barnhill pour buckets of strawberries into boxes to be sold Thursday morning at Barnhill Orchards in Lonoke. The Barnhills were named Farm Family of the Year for Lonoke County. The drive thru is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m..(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

The 75th annual Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program has named the 2022 County Farm Families of the Year, according to the Arkansas Farm Bureau.

In Jefferson County, the honorees are Brett and Juli Stewart of Brett Stewart Farms. They have been in business for six years and farm 2,000 acres including soybeans, corn, rice and wheat, according to the Jefferson County report book from the bureau.

The couple is a first-generation farm family. They began with 150 acres.

"We started farming because we had a desire to be farmers," Stewart said. "We literally started with a pickup truck and a 4-wheeler."

He shares his experience with others. Stewart has spoken for the past two years at the National Conservation Systems Cotton and Rice Conference about soybean insect management and experiences from a first-generation farmer.

The Stewarts are heavily involved in their church. Brett Stewart teaches Sunday School and leads the music for worship services at South Side Missionary Baptist Church in Star City and Juli Stewart leads the Wednesday night pre-school program.


The families will be visited by a set of judges to determine eight District Farm Families of the Year, which will be announced June 14. The state Farm Family of the Year will be announced in December at the Farm Family of the Year luncheon, according to the news release.

Southeast Arkansas families by county include:

• Jefferson – Brett and Juli Stewart;

• Arkansas, North – Jackie and Duffie Banks, Jackie and Duffie Banks Joint Venture;

• Arkansas, South – Daniel and Haley Smith, LOWDOH Farm Partnership;

• Bradley – Jason and Laura West;

• Chicot – Mark Welty;

• Cleveland – Brian Ashcraft, Ashcraft Farms/Cowford Farms;

• Dallas – Edward and Mary Parham, Parham Family Tree Farm;

• Desha – Chris Dunnahoe;

• Drew – Alice, Rocky and Alicia Lindsey, Peyton Place Farms;

• Grant – Marks, Hanna and Cole Mitchell, Mitchell's Hot Hen Farms Inc.

Since 1947, the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year Program has served as a vehicle to recognize outstanding farm families throughout the state.

The basis for selection as Arkansas Farm Family of the Year includes efficiency of production, conservation of energy and resources, leadership in agricultural and community affairs, home and farm improvement, and home and farm management.

The Farm Family of the Year program begins each year with the selection of top farm families in each county and culminates in December with the selection of the state Farm Family of the Year, who then go on to represent Arkansas at the Swisher Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year.

Sponsors of the Farm Family of the Year program are Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas and the three Farm Credit agencies that serve Arkansas: AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas and Midsouth Farm Credit. Additionally, support is provided by the Arkansas Agriculture Department, Arkansas Department of Career Education, Arkansas Press Association, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the USDA's Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development.

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