The Cobb/Lyerly/Owens Partnership in Lake City in Craighead County is the 2021 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year. The honor was announced recently at a luncheon in North Little Rock honoring the county and district Farm Families of the Year.
The partnership involves several members of the families for which it is named: Steve and Terri Cobb, their son Jarrett and his wife Ashley, son Aaron and wife Cassandra, and daughter Leslie and husband Erick Lyerly. Also included are Darin and Leigh Ann Owens, their daughter Taylor and her husband Kyle Outlaw, and their daughters Emily and Bailey.
The family’s 50-year-old, 4,250-acre farming operation is diverse, including commodities that range from pigs and peanuts to tomatoes, corn, cotton and soybeans.
Three entities make up the partnership:
• Steve Cobb and Family is one of the nation’s leading show-pig operations, producing 1,500 show pigs annually, as well as breeding stock for club pig production. Through online auctions and a website, it has sold winning show pigs to 4-H, FFA and other youth exhibitors in 40 states.
• The Cane Island Farms Partnership handles row-crop production. Its goal is to produce high yielding, quality crops while maintaining high soil fertility and good environmental practices.
• Cane Island Produce grows flavorful greenhouse tomatoes year-round that are sold to local buyers through Facebook and word-of-mouth. The farm’s goal is to add new greenhouses for growing additional types of produce and flowers.
• In addition, their family-owned Circle L Farms handles all of Cane Island Farms’ trucking needs, as well as those of the local brokers. Circle L runs eight trucks daily, helping to reduce trucking costs for the overall operation.
“We feel very humbled by this great honor. We were really overwhelmed because we weren’t expecting it,” said Steve Cobb. “I told our family members when we were originally asked about running for Farm Family of the Year in Craighead County that I almost feel inadequate because of the number of really good farmers in our area. I felt that way again today when I saw the operations of all the district winners. It looked to me like everybody was deserving.
“I’m very proud of our farm, but the farm is secondary to the family, and I’m incredibly proud for my family.”
Next stop: Moultrie, Georgia
As Arkansas Farm Family of the Year, the Cobbs, Lyerlys and Owens will compete in 2023 with nine other southeastern state winners in the Swisher/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year program in Moultrie, Georgia.
Now in its 74th year, the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program is the longest-running farm family recognition program of its type in the United States. It begins with selection of the top farm family in each county.
Then eight district Farm Families of the Year are selected. The competition is judged on production, efficiency and management of farm operations, family life and rural/community leadership and values.
8 district winners
The Cobb/Lyerly/Owens Partnership was the Northeast District Farm Family of the Year. The seven other district winners for the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year honor include:
• Cottonwood Farms/the Trail Family of Widener (St. Francis County), East Central District.
• Dennis & Tracy Broadwater and family of Batesville (Independence County), North Central District.
• Kaleb & Chrisie Smith of Gentry (Benton County), Northwest District.
• Layne & Ryane Miles of McGehee (Desha County), Southeast District.
• Cody & Ashlee Askew of Hope (Hempstead County), Southwest District.
• Kent & Anita Malcom of Okolona (Clark County), West Central District.
• Foshee Family Farms/Paul & Carolin Foshee and Family of Atkins (Conway County), Western District.
Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas and Farm Credit Midsouth are sponsors of the program. Additional program support is provided by the Arkansas Agriculture Department, Arkansas Department of Career Education, the Arkansas Press Association, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, and USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development.
The Arkansas Farm Bureau contributed this article.