- Associated Press - Sunday, June 24, 2018

LINCOLN, Ark. (AP) - Dyanna Moyer considers her family farm’s most significant accomplishment to be supporting two daughters who became first-generation college graduates with agriculture-related degrees.

“As my wife says, the most important thing we raise is kids,” said husband Jerry Moyer.

The Arkansas Farm Bureau named Jerry and Dyanna Moyer and their daughters, Cheyenne and Caleigh the Washington County 2018 Farm Family of the Year, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The Arkansas Farm Family of the Year Program has honored families for their commitment to farming since 1947. Judges analyze production, efficiency, management, family life and rural or community leadership, according to a press release.

Jerry Moyer bought his first heifer in 1978 with help from neighbors J.O. and Marie Parker. The family moved from Springdale to Lincoln and started PLR Farms with the Parkers after Jerry and Dyanna married and their daughters were born.

Jerry Moyer operated on five acres when he began farming 39 years ago. Now he owns 100 acres and rents 20. The family plans to expand soon by purchasing or leasing another 50 acres, which would allow them to increase the number of cows they raise from 55 to 80.

Chickens have become their money-making enterprise although the family prefers raising heifers. They decided to invest in their poultry operation about five years ago and are producing 3.75 million pounds of chicken yearly as a contract grower for George’s Inc., according to a news release.

Cattle farming alone might result in one large paycheck a year while poultry results in five, so their poultry operation provides a sustainable income between calf crops, Jerry Moyer said. Investing in a poultry operation provided financial stability so Cheyenne and Caleigh could graduate debt-free with bachelor’s degrees.

“To tell you we’re getting rich off the poultry houses would be a lie,” Jerry Moyer said. “But at the end of the day, it does fill a niche in our area.”

Jerry and Dyanna Moyer prioritized their daughters’ education as they grew up, Cheyenne Moyer said.

“They set really high expectations for us,” she said. “Just because we were busy on the farm one night wasn’t an excuse to have a bad grade on a test or homework assignment.”

Jerry and Dyanna Moyer wanted to raise their family on a farm in part because of the hard work ethic that comes from living on a farm, Dyanna Moyer said. All four family members work to keep it in operation.

Dyanna Moyer said she takes pride in raising “bonus kids” or young people who the family has helped compete in shows or hired to work on their farm.

Paul Cole, a recent high school graduate from Prairie Grove, has worked for the Moyers for four years and considers himself an adopted farmhand. The Moyers helped him get involved in Future Farmers of America and step outside of his comfort zone, he said.

Dixie Miller, Dyanna and Jerry Moyers’ niece, and other family members estimated the Moyer family has helped at least 60 people become more involved with farming, she said.

“They’ve helped countless kids get exposed to agriculture,” Miller said.

Dyanna wants more people to understand how agriculture affects their lives, she said. She frowns when she asks children where they think their meat comes from and they answer “McDonald’s.”

Agriculture “touches everyone’s lives and is so important,” Dyanna Moyer said.

A group of judges will visit the Moyers’ farm and nine others to determine the district winner. Arkansas Farm Family Program officials will announce the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year on Dec. 6, and that family will receive $2,500 and compete for the Southeastern Farmer of the Year title and represent Arkansas at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia.

If Jerry Moyer’s family wins money, it will go toward “paying another bill,” he said.

“It would allow us to farm just that much longer,” Jerry Moyer said.


Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.nwaonline.com

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