(Photo by Jake Marsh, Staff)
Brent and Scheryl Powell and their two sons, Jarod, 21, and Justin, 15, own a stretch of farmland just south of Benton.
"It was a huge surprise when we heard we won the award. We don't feel worthy," said Mrs. Powell. "The farming business has been very good to us and we are just grateful to be here."
The Powells began farming in 1993; the first in their family to choose a career in farming.
They currently own 12 broiler houses on their 80 acres of land. The broiler houses are used to raise chicks for six weeks before they are sold.
"We were the first contract farmer in the area. We work directly with Tyson Foods Inc. and raise about two million chicks a year for them," said Powell. "To date, there are about 25 poultry farmers in the area."
"The poultry business has many positive aspects besides the obvious food production," said Powell. "The tax levies provide money for the state and the three million pounds of feed we use every six-week period comes almost solely from local farmers."
Recently, the Powells expanded their operation by purchasing another 80 acres of farm land.
It is this diversity and expansion that won the Powell family the Farm Family of the Year, said Missy Marshall, executive director of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce.
"The Powells were chosen because they embody the younger side of farming and are doing so in a field that is not traditional," said Marshall.
"They are a classic example of the small, self-made farmer," said Brad Cookson, chairman of the SACC agribusiness committee. "They have also been dedicated members of the Bootheel community throughout their lives."
Both Powell and his wife were raised in Morley and are graduates of Scott County Central High School.
Before picking up farming, Powell worked in construction and was an independent contractor.
Mrs. Powell received a degree from Southeast Missouri State University after high school. Prior to working full time on the farm, she worked as a dental assistant.
Jarod is an English major at Southern Illinois University, and their youngest son, Justin, will be a sophomore at Kelly High School. Justin plans to work full time on the farm after high school.
The Powells are members of the Morley Church of God.
This is the 36th year that the Chamber of Commerce has named a Farm Family of Year. "It is our way to recognize the agricultural community that makes up such a big part of the Bootheel area," said Marshall.
Families in the Bootheel area are nominated by local businesses, lenders or other farmers to receive the recognition. From those nominated, the SACC has a committee that chooses each year's Farm Family of the Year.
And what does the future hold for this year's new Farm Family of the Year?
"Business as usual," according to Powell. "The 328,000 chickens keeps you pretty busy. There is no time for much else."
The Powell family will be honored at the Annual Farmer's Appreciation Fish Fry at 5 p.m. July 27 at Nelson Tractor and Equipment Company on 101 County Line Road in Sikeston.
Awards for the farm woman of the year, best agricultural business and outstanding young farmer will also be given at the dinner.
Everyone is invited to attend. Tickets to the fish fry are $5 and can be purchased at the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce.