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July 23, 2010   Email to Friend 

OYFF/Cotton: The Smiths Prepare For Future With Major Upgrades
By Melissa Martin

The Smiths are looking now to expand their feed business.
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 10 commodities were selected in February. Of those, six finalists will compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2010. The winner, who will be named at the Federation's 89th Annual Meeting in December, will receive a John Deere Gator, courtesy of Alabama Ag Credit, a personal computer package courtesy of ValCom/CCS Wireless, $500 cash from Dodge, use of a new vehicle and other prizes. The winner also will go on to compete at the national level for a new Dodge Ram 3500. This month, Neighbors profiles four commodity division winners. Look for features on the six finalists in the coming months.

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With more than 15 years' experience as a farm operator, Calhoun County farmer Matthew Smith has seen his share of good and bad harvests. And when his corn crop was devastated by a severe drought in 2007, he was never more excited about being a cotton man.

After planting the first seeds of cotton in 2002, Matthew knew this venture would be time consuming. But as any good farmer knows, the rewards reaped from hard work often outweigh the long hours in the sun. To help make 2010 a fruitful year for his family and their farm, Matthew has added new sprayers, planters and a cotton picker to their operation.

Of the acreage he is currently responsible for, 260 acres are planted with Bt cotton. "A major innovation for the cotton industry is the better Bt cotton varieties available today," said Matthew, who along with wife Stacey and sons Colby (11) and Micheal (8), won the Cotton Division of the Outstanding Young Farm Family competition.

In addition to his cotton, Matthew has 225 acres in corn, 165 in wheat and another 250 in soybeans, and is considering expanding his operation in the near future.

"We may pick up new crops," he said. "Maybe canola or sunflowers. We're also looking to increase our feed business by adding horse feed or hog feed to our production, in addition to the cattle feed we currently sell."

FARM FACTS
• Due to the rising cost of fertilizer, the Smiths built their own fertilizer shed so they can buy in advance and store it on their farm.

• Long-range plans call for increasing the farm's corn and soybean acreage.


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