The 2020 Louisiana Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award winner is Phillip Tomlinson of East Carroll Parish. This is the top award presented annually to a Louisiana farmer or rancher 35 or younger who’s main income is from production agriculture and shows innovation and financial stability on their operation.
Phillip, along with his wife Carey and their four children, operate a 2,700-acre grain and livestock farm near Lake Providence, La. He said the award is an incredible honor, but it’s one part of the joy of being a farmer.
“I have to say that I’m living my dream on this farm,” Phillip said.
Established in 1950, Tomlinson Farms is now in its fourth generation. The fifth generation, Phillip’s son Weston, already goes into the field to pick ripe sweet corn.
“The joy of it, to me, is having my kids out there in the sweet corn patch because they are learning how to work hard, how to sweat, how to pick the big ears,” He said. “They take them and deliver them to friends and family. They’re actually getting to see that we are really doing our part to feed the world and our part to give to others.”
In their effort to feed the world, the Tomlinson children sell eggs from the family’s laying hens. Phillip said that teaches them that farm life requires management of money and resources.
“They all get the money if they work,” he said. “We divide the money up and 10% goes to their tithes, 10% goes to savings and they can do whatever they want with the rest. That’s been really fun to see their minds start working and start realizing how things work, you know, how the money works.”
Managing money is important if they want to see another generation on their land. It’s meant a lot of sacrifice and change since the farm began.
“I saw the need to change some things if we’re going to remain profitable going into the future,” Tomlinson said.
“So, we moved to row-fall irrigation. We’ve leveled almost 900 acres and we leveled a lot of ground that was not previously leveled and we put it on a fall to where now we can grow rice, corn and soybeans. In farming, it’s all about getting water on your crop, but getting it off is just as important or more important. The row fall irrigation is a lot more efficient. We use a lot less water. We get it on faster. We get it off faster, so our yields have really gone up.”
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It’s all an effort to take this fourth-generation farm to the fifth and beyond. While Phillip says he doesn’t want to pressure any of his children to take the reins, he does want this land ready if they do.
“My dream would be for at least one of my kids to come back to the farm,” he said. “It wouldn’t matter if it’s my son, Weston, or any of my girls. If anybody wants to join this operation, they have got an open door and we will make it work.”
For winning the Louisiana Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award, Phillip receives $35,000 cash from the Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, a $250 Choice Hotel gift card, courtesy of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, a $250 Farm Bureau Bank Card, courtesy of Louisiana Farm Bureau Insurance Companies and a paid trip to the 2021 American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in San Diego, Calif.
In San Diego, Phillip will represent Louisiana for the American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award. The winner on the national level receives a new Ford truck, courtesy of Ford. The first runner up receives a Case IH Farmall 50A Tractor, courtesy of Case IH. The second runner up receives a Case IH 40” Combination roll cabinet and top chest, courtesy of Case IH, along with $2,200 worth of Stanley Black & Decker merchandise, courtesy of Stanley Black & Decker. The third runner up receives a Case IH 40” Combination roll cabinet and top chest, courtesy of Case IH. Prizes are subject to change.
Founded in 1922, the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization representing more than 148,000 member families.