The Finch name has long been associated with farming and this year's selection for Craighead County Farm Family went to Danny and Allen Finch.
Danny and Allen both started their farming careers as day laborers working alongside their two sisters, Carolyn and Freddie Lee, and two brothers, Bill and Dennis, for their father, Fred Finch.
At that time, their father farmed 300 acres of cotton and 300 acres of wheat and beans.
When their older brother, Dennis, began his own operation in 1979, Danny and Allen decided they would stay together and try to increase the size of the farms they received from their father. FDA (Fred, Dennis, and Allen) Farms was incorporated and they rented and farmed land anywhere they could find it. For years they farmed as far as 30 to 40 miles away from where they were centralized in Caraway.
Danny Finch said there are advantages to having land spread out because there is always a dry area to work.
Money they received from farming and building cotton trailers at night was put back into the operation obtaining more land and equipment.
Their father retired in 1982 but the FDA name remained with the farm.
Some of the first equipment the Finch brothers obtained included dirt moving equipment so they could level the land to get rid of mud holes.
University of Arkansas Extension agent Andy Vangilder convinced Danny and Allen that irrigation of cotton would be profitable, they began leveling their land so that it would irrigate properly. The Finch brothers began investing money into irrigation efforts along with obtaining more land to farm.
Today they farm 4,200 acres of irrigated BXN conventional till cotton and 1,300 acres of irrigated Round Up no-till cotton. All of the land farmed by the two has been leveled by their own equipment and is also all irrigated. They do their own harvesting.
They move dirt for other farmers in the winter between harvest and planting.
Danny and Allen's sons also help at the farm.
Allen's son, Dustin (19) works in the summer and attends Arkansas State University in the fall, winter, and spring.
Danny's son, Brandon (23), recently graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor's degree in agribusiness and plans to continue the farm operation when his father and uncle decide to retire.
Danny and his wife, Debbie, live in Jonesboro. Their older son, Barte, works and is going to school in Duluth, Minn. Debbie is a graduate of Arkansas State Universty.
Allen and his wife, Maleisa, live west of Monette. Their son, Dustin, graduated from Buffalo Island Central High School. Maleisa is an Arkansas State University graduate and works with her father, Raymond Miller, at Kiech Shauver Gin in Monette.
Danny and Debbie are members of the First United Methodist Church in Jonesboro. He serves as Chairman of the Buffalo Island Drainage District, is a member of the Northeast Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation service.
Allen and Maleisa are members of the First Baptist Church in Monette.
Danny and Allen were quick to give praise to their employees.
"The farm is made up of more than just Finch brothers. Our employees are the backbone to our success. They are here every morning at 5:30 and do not leave until they feel their workday is finished which is usually around 6:30 p.m. They also carry more responsibilities than most farm workers would be trusted with. It is no problem if one or all of the Finch brothers need to be out of town, our employees can handle it. They also are our eyes, because on the tractors they see every acre at one point or another and give us feedback on weed and bug problems we are noticing," Danny said. "Jim Kimbrough, who retired from the extension service, works full time on our farm and is a gift from above. Dave Pierce, our other entomologist helps Mr. Kimbrough with the farms in Monette and through yields he has proven to be very beneficial. Mr. Kimbrough's granddaughter, Jessica, who is only 17, is running the COTTMAN program for the Finch farms."
Mr. Kimbrough and the Finch brothers run many test plots for the University of Arkansas and other companies such as genetics for the Stoneville Seed Company.
"Between our entomologist and employees we use their suggestions to base a decision on what needs to be done to our crops. When decisions are based on several different suggestions, it makes them a little easier to make. In short we believe that the only way to get ahead in farming today is continually work harder and be opened minded to new ideas and procedures," Danny said.
Both Danny and Allen said they accepted the honor in memory of Fred Finch, Lihue Price and G.C. "Buddy" Roberson who left them the legacy of land and good work ethics.