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July 27, 2009   Email to Friend 

OYFF: Lee Family Meets Goals In Custom Hay Business
Darryal Ray

Brad Lee with wife Christy, daughter Rachel (2) and sons Dylan (5) and baby James.
Sponsored each year by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Outstanding Young Farm Family Awards Program recognizes young farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 who do an outstanding job in farm, home and community activities. Division winners representing 11 commodities were selected in February. Of those, six finalists will compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2009. The winner, who will be named at the Federation's 88th Annual Meeting in December, will receive a John Deere Gator, courtesy of the Federal Land Bank of Alabama, $500 cash from Dodge, the use of a new vehicle and other prizes and will go on to compete at the national level for a new Dodge Ram 3500. This month, Neighbors profiles seven commodity division winners. Look for features on the six finalists in the coming months.

Brad Lee's goal when he got into farming a decade ago was simple: Build a good reputation for selling custom hay.

He can now consider that goal met as Brad, wife Christy, daughter Rachel (2) and sons Dylan (5) and baby James are this year's winner in the Outstanding Young Farm Family's Hay & Forage Division.

"I have planted 30 acres of Tifton 85 and have 60 acres of Tifton 9," Brad says of his Coffee County farm operation. "The quality of my grass and peanut hay is well known. Plus I have numerous customers with the hay service I have had for over 10 years. My current goal is to work on my square bale operation and to add a few more customers."

Lee says breaking into the custom business is tough because it is so heavy in competition. That's why he offers more variety in his hay and forages than many producers. There are 15 acres of pearl millet, 30 acres of ryegrass, 45 acres of clover, 27 acres of Bermuda grass and 135 acres of Bahai grass.

"I'm currently cutting 27 acres of coastal and 60 acres of Tifton 9 grass for farm use and sales, and I keep another 40 to 60 acres of hay cut on a custom basis," he says. "In the fall, I'll bale an average of 550 acres of peanut hay on a custom basis."

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