Arkansas Rice Farmers Jennifer James, of Newport, and Dow Brantley, of England, were celebrated this week at the 2019 USA Rice Outlook Conference. James was awarded 2019 Farmer of the Year and Brantley was awarded the 2019 Distinguished Conservation Achievement.
Brantley Farming Co. was honored Monday morning during the conference’s first general session at the Statehouse Convention Center. Mr. Laudies Brantley is the second generation farm operator, who laid the foundation of this progress while raising a family with his wife Polly. Dow Brantley, a third generation farmer, is active in the National Cotton Council, USA Rice Federation, Arkansas Rice Federation, Arkansas Farm Bureau, and Ag Council of Arkansas. He and his wife Amy have three children, daughters Caroline, Virginia, and Ruth.
The Brantley’s operation has an extensive list of conservation accomplishments including installing nine miles of irrigation pipeline, two surface reservoirs, 4,400 acres of irrigation water management and 2,700 acres of wetland wildlife management practices all implemented to address water quality.
“Most of you know this family because of the thousands of hours they’ve volunteered for the betterment of our rice industry via multiple leadership roles. But what often goes overlooked is how this family is leading the industry by example, on the ground, through investing their time, knowledge, and resources in farming practices and infrastructure that show they are willing to take risks now for the betterment of tomorrow,” said California rice farmer and USA Rice Farmers Conservation Committee Chair Leo LaGrande during the award presentation.
James was awarded later that day during Outlook’s Annual Awards Luncheon by Vicky Boyd, editor of Rice Farming magazine. Governor Asa Hutchinson was in attendance to welcome attendees to Arkansas and kick off the ceremony.
James grew up on her father’s row crop operation and never believed she would return to Newport to farm. Today, she along with her husband, Greg, and her father, Marvin Hare, grow 6,500 acres of rice, soybeans and corn. She is heavily involved in all aspects of her operation, H&J Land Co., in Jackson County.
She is a graduate of the Rice Leadership Development Program, is active in many rice industry groups, and sits on the Merchants and Planters Bank Board, the Arkansas Rice Federation Board and is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank Ag Industry Council. Last summer, James was elected the first woman to the Riceland Foods Board of directors.
“I believe it is our obligation as farmers to speak loudly and often about the practices we employ on our farms to conserve our national resources and build habitat within our rice fields,” said James. “We are producing more with less and working hard every day to continue to improve.”
Dr. Ford Baldwin was also recognized during the Outlook conference this week with the Rice Lifetime Achievement Award.