Jackson County couple named Farm Family of the Year
Jackson County's T.J. and Diane Beach were named Oklahoma Farm Bureau Farm Family of the Year Nov. 20 at the 69th annual state convention in Oklahoma City.
A panel of judges selected the Elmer family from 13 entries in the annual contest, which honors the farm family who best represents farming and ranching and the spirit of Oklahoma agriculture.
The farm couple received use of a new Dodge pickup for a year, an expense-paid trip to the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga., and other gifts in recognition of their accomplishments.
The couple has four children, including twins Jason and Jordan, who are 20; Kory, 10; and Derek, 8. Another son, Brandon, who would be 12, is the couple's "angel in Heaven."
Today's farm traces its origins to 1984, when T.J. rented his first wheat farm and ran calves. He added land gradually, and the family today farms 4,300 acres with cotton, wheat and alfalfa hay being the primary crops. They also have a 100-head cow herd and run 500 to 600 stockers each year.
Irrigation is important to the operation's cropland. They have converted several acres from flood to drip irrigation, affording more efficient use of water. Center pivot systems have been re-nozzled, placing water delivery closer to plants.
The introduction of GPS guidance systems on equipment has afforded them more efficiency in fuel usage, seed placement, and fertilizer and chemical applications.
Record keeping and marketing have been augmented with the hiring of a farm data service that assists with monthly and annual record keeping. The service also helps them develop a cash flow plan, which the couple describes as a "very valuable tool."
Each year they strive to utilize genetically altered and improved seed and to improve fertilizer efficiency and pesticide and herbicide applications. They strive to achieve hefty average daily gains with stockers by managing wheat pasture grazing rates for maximum efficiency and providing supplemental feed and treatment for animals in a timely manner.
Both T.J. and Diane are active in their community. He is a board member and volunteers with the fire department and she serves as a board member. T.J. also is a member of the Jackson County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and belongs to the board of both the local coop and rural water district.
"Agriculture is a way of life for our family," they said. "We realize and appreciate the benefits of getting to raise our boys in a rural setting and letting them experience working on the farm.
"Our involvement in agriculture allows us to model a lifestyle of productivity to our children and is what makes our life an American dream. We are proud to represent our great state of Oklahoma and our great industry of agriculture."