Staying Close to His Roots
Todd Smith says he has always wanted to be a part of a family farm
Todd Smith has been involved in agriculture his entire life.
The multi-generational farmer has worked in just about every aspect of the business, and he never strayed far from his roots in McRae, Ark.
A graduate of McRae High School, Todd attended the University of Arkansas, where he obtained a degree in agriculture with a minor in business.
After college, he worked at a variety of jobs before joining his parents on the family farm.
“I’ve always wanted to farm, especially the family farm,” Todd said. “But, I had to work other jobs until the time was right to join the family operation. My business degree came in handy and I gained some valuable experience working off the farm.”
The origin of the Smith family farm dates back to 1886 when the original 40 acres were established by John F. Rogers.
The land had been deeded to Arkansas from the United States government in 1853. Roger’s son-in-law, John Calvin Smith, inherited the land in 1899, and the farm has been passed down through the generations since. Todd and his wife Cheryl bought the farm in 1999.
The Smith Farm was recognized in 2013 by the Arkansas Agriculture Department as an Arkansas Century Farm.
“The land started out as timber,” Todd explained. “Cotton was grown for many years, then we switched to soybeans and rice. Row crop farming was becoming more challenging, so in 2008 I enrolled my 380 acres into the Wetlands Reserve Program. Now I’ve come full circle, and I’m in the broiler business. “
Smith currently operates six broiler houses under contract with Peco Foods out of their plant in Batesville, Ark. Peco is the eighth largest poultry processor in the United States and began having a larger presence in Arkansas when they purchased Townsend Foods in 2011. In addition to the large expansion into northeast Arkansas, Peco Foods has experienced a large expansion into White County, Ark., with Todd being one of several farmers to add broiler houses.
“My operation is one of the smaller ones,” said Smith. “Some of the farmers build 10, sometimes 20 houses. Six was all I wanted to handle. I got my first batch of birds in January 2017. I have one hired hand who helps me; that’s perfect. It has been a good fit so far.”
Broilers are brought to the farm directly from the hatchery and then removed at about 7 weeks. The broilers are taken to the Batesville, Ark., plant for processing. Peco Foods has a large feed mill in Batesville, which provides the feed for area broiler growers.
While some of the Smith family have moved on to other locations, they all seem to maintain a certain closeness to the farm. All the kids were active in 4-H growing up and helped on the farm when they could.
Daughter Trella Elam and her husband live in Northwest Arkansas, as does their son Kevin. The youngest child, Kelly Shofner, and her family live just down the road in Beebe, Ark.
While the family is somewhat scattered, they all still hold to the values they learned growing up on the farm.
“Our kids all show an interest in the land,” said Smith. “We have always been a close-knit family. My dad and my uncles were all close. That’s just the way it was. We have a new generation coming on and it is a great experience to have the farm so that we can enjoy the land with our grandkids. For us it is God first, family second and work third.”http://www.ozarksfn.com/2018/03/19/staying-close-to-his-roots/http://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ToddSmith-1024x768.jpghttp://www.ozarksfn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ToddSmith-150x150.jpgArkansas NeighborsNeighborsagriculture,Arkansas,family farm,McRae,Todd SmithTodd Smith says he has always wanted to be a part of a family farm Todd Smith has been involved in agriculture his entire life. The multi-generational farmer has worked in just about every aspect of the business, and he never strayed far from his roots in McRae, Ark. A graduate...Larry BurchfieldLarry Burchfieldlburchfield57@gmail.comAuthorOzarks Farm & Neighbor Newspaper