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July 27, 2009   Email to Friend 

OYFF: Looneys Plant Beans Best Suited For Their Farm
Darryal Ray

Miranda and Ben Looney with sons Clay (4) and Colby (9).
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.

If there's any one thing that Benjamin Looney has learned in his 13 years of farming, it's "no more Group 4 beans ... ever ... ever ... ever!"

"I had a really bad experience with them," Looney says. "Everybody was talking about Group 4 beans and that the yields they made were just outrageous. I bet I made five bushels per acre. Well, it wasn't that bad. It was 10. But I'll never ever grow any more Group 4s, ever! So far, I've stuck to my word."

He says now instead of listening to his buddies, he listens to his sales representatives and planted the variety that's best suited for his farm. It's a decision that obviously works well as Ben, wife Miranda and sons Colby (9) and Clay (4) captured the Soybean Division of the Outstanding Young Farm Family competition.

Of course, getting there has had its challenges -- flooding, drought and last year's switch from a 90-percent cotton farm to a 100-percent grain farm in a single year.

"This is the second straight year that we've gone all grain," said Ben, who has seen cotton prices take a beating. "It's kind of odd trying to buy a combine and trailer trucks, and trying to figure out what to do with pickers and boll buggys and stuff. I didn't realize there was that much work involved in grain. I've always had a little grain, but never like this. It's definitely a challenge."

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