BALDWIN COUNTY COUPLE NAMED OUTSTANDING FARM FAMILY
MOBILE, Ala.--A Baldwin County couple was chosen as the 2000 Outstanding Young Farm Family during the Alabama Farmers Federation annual meeting in Mobile Dec. 3-4.
Tim and Roberta Mullek grow peanuts on their farm where they are raising their two daughters, Meg and Anna. The family was selected from nominations throughout the state in 10 different commodity divisions. The Mulleks advanced to the final selection process when they were named the state's Outstanding Young Farm Family for Alfa Farmer's Peanut Division earlier this year.
As the 2000 Outstanding Young Farm Family, they will receive the use of a 2001 Chevrolet Blazer for one year, an IBM personal computer and software package sponsored by Valcom Business Centers of Alabama, a $200 cash award and a plaque. The Mulleks also will serve on the Alabama Farmers Federation State Young Farmers Committee.
Tim, who is a fourth-generation Baldwin County farmer, operates a partnership with his father, Joe Mullek, and his brother, Michael Mullek. Together, they have 1,170 acres of peanuts and 450 acres of cotton. And while the Mullek farm has been successful over the years, its ability to change has been a key to its success, Tim said.
"My family decided to grow cotton in 1990," Tim said. "We were the first to grow cotton in our county, but that proved to be a wise decision made by my father. From that year when we had about 1,000 acres of cotton, it has grown in popularity to the point that there are between 12,000-13,000 acres planted in the county."
Another gutsy decision made by the Mulleks helped pave the way for a second new crop to the area. In the winter of 1997-98, when grain prices fell sharply, the Mulleks decided to plant peanuts that spring.
"Prior to that time, we had planted corn and cotton and did well," Tim said. "But when prices fell so low, we began to look to another avenue. I think much of our success can be attributed to making the right decisions at the right time."
When the Mulleks decided to plant peanuts, they wanted to be sure a buying point would be located nearby. So when a Eufaula company began searching for a location in Baldwin County, Tim and Roberta bought four acres and leased it to the company to build a buying point in 1998. Last fall, the couple purchased six acres adjoining the property to allow for expansion of the buying station.
"We have been very fortunate and have been blessed with good land that had never seen a peanut until a few years ago," Tim said. "We have good yields and live in an area that receives adequate rainfall. Peanuts really do well here."
While some of the older farmers in the area are retiring, the Mulleks see it as an opportunity to rent more land and expand their business. But the couple is quick to point out that they don't want to get so big additional labor is needed.
"I think we'll probably level off our peanut acreage at about 1,000 acres," Tim said. "But we're going to have to have about 2,000 acres of cotton to rotate the peanut acreage, so I see that expanding some in the future."
Roberta graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor's degree in accounting and a master's degree in international business studies. But she changed careers after their first daughter was born to that of a full-time mom. Her education and background, combined with Tim's business management degree, help the couple operate their farm as a business in every sense of the word.
The Mulleks are members of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Robertsdale and are active members of the Baldwin County Farmers Federation where Tim formerly served as chairman of the Young Farmers Committee. Roberta coordinates the Miss Agriculture Pageant for the county and is a member of the county Women's Division. Tim is enrolled in the Auburn University Leaders Program, a two-year program aimed at developing leadership skills in young farmers and others who work in agri-business. He's also active in his local Knights of Columbus where he helps organize area blood drives several times a year.
"We both love the Farmers Federation and especially the Young Farmers Program," Roberta said. "It's nice to meet other couples from around the state who have the same interests and lifestyle that we have. We have made so many new friends that will last a lifetime."