The Lammers family of Dell is the 2010 Mississippi County Farm Family of the Year. Lammers Farms is truly a family farming operation. It is a three way partnership with all of the family involved in the everyday operation of the farm. They share their ideas and their talents working together to make a successful operation.
Louis and Carol started with a determination and a desire to be farmers. Louis is a first generation farmer. They were school teachers in 1971. He taught at Armorel and she taught at Dell. Louis said it was his one and only year to teach school. Carol taught school for over 30 years retiring in 2000.
Louis really wanted to be a farmer and in 1972 they made their first crop. They had 300 acres of cotton and soybeans.
At the end of their first year, they sold their equipment to pay out and moved to Ohio where Louis started driving a truck.
"We had just a little fuel debt left which was paid off with truck driving money," Louis said. "We paid everything off. I think that meant a lot to the folks around here because when we came back they were willing to give us another chance. A farmer lives and dies by his credit. When you are farming you are using your own money and others and we need to be careful how we spend it."
In1978 they built their house and Louis and Dr. H.L. Lewis started a farming partnership and the rest is history. He has seen his farm grow from 120 acres to the present 6,500 acres. Diesel was only 14 cents a gallon when he started out.
The family worked together. Carol continued to teach school and during the early years the money from the farm went back into the farming operation. Their children Laura and Jeff grew up chopping cotton. They both scouted cotton during their teenage years and loved the family farm as much as their parents.
"We are so blessed to have John and Jeff," Carol said. "They have definite talents they bring in. It works well because the three of them all work so well together."
Louis said the farm really took off when they joined the operation. With the three working together they have been able to expand.
"These guys aren't supervisor farmers," Laura said. "They are definitely hands on farmers."
Jeff joined the family farm operation in 1995 and John in 1996.
They farm 2,000 acres of rice, 1,600 acres of cotton, 2,000 acres of beans, 60 acres of milo and have 900 acres of woods and ponds in Missouri in the CRP program.
They have 3,600 acres of irrigated land. They invested in onsite grain storage giving them more time at harvest and more options in marketing.
"I've seen neighbors have to shut down harvest because of a shortage in trucks," Louis said.
Keith Griffin serves as the crop consultant for the farm. They have seven full time employees.
They are a busy family and stay involved with church, school, and their children's activities. Their activities range from serving on boards to coaching their children's teams. It keeps them all busy making the rounds to dance, swim lessons, baseball, softball, football, basketball, soccer, piano, guitar and other activities. Their children are close and they have their own ball team when they get together for Sunday dinners at Louis and Carol's home.
Louis and Carol are presently remodeling their home making their dining room larger. Carol is excited about getting a sewing/craft room of her own. She enjoys creating crafts.
Any day can turn into a "family party" as they enjoy getting together for an afternoon of grilling burgers and swimming.
Even though they work together and stay busy, they coordinate a family vacation each year when everyone can spare four or five days. It is not easy to find the time but they make it happen.
Louis is one of the original board members of the Cotton Growers Gin. He and Danny Bourland were the first to get the idea of the gin started in 1991. Today they have 40 owners. Louis still serves on the board today.
"Cotton Growers is an asset to the farming community," Louis said.
Louis still loves farming as much today as he did when he started.
"There is something new every day," he said. "We are off to a good start this year."
The Lammers Farms has come into the computer age but Louis still enjoys a keeping a few reminders of the past. He has a 1953 John Deere 70 and a 1959 John Deere 730 restored.
The Lammers have a unique office at their headquarters housed in the 100 year old all Cyprus building at their headquarters on Highway 181. Louis purchased the building from the Stevens' Farm. It was originally the old commissary building. He moved it to its present site. It was one large room. They added walls and insulation. It has four layers of cypress. They said it is quiet and easy to heat and cool.
Louis is involved in the Dell Kiwanis Club and in Farm Bureau.
Carol is involved with the Mississippi County Retired Teachers Association, works with the Relay for Life with the Farmers in the Dell team, and served as Vacation Bible School Director at the First Baptist Church at Dell. She is also involved in the Blytheville women's Club and the De4lta Kappa Gamma.
Jeff has a master's degree in agronomy from the University of Arkansas. Kelley is the high school counselor at Gosnell High School.
Before returning home to farm, they served 20 months as missionaries in Uganda.
She plans to go on another missionary trip this summer to France.
Jeff serves as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dell.
Jeff is chairman of the rice committee for the county division of Farm Bureau and is past secretary of the Mississippi County Farm Bureau Executive Board.
Kelley works with the Extension Service Youth Leadership program.
John and Laura stay busy. John and the girls enjoy horses. Laura teaches sixth grade at Gosnell and coaches elementary girls basketball.
John serves on the Gosnell School Board and is on the advisory committee for the Extension Service. He is a Deacon at Dell Baptist Church, a member of the Arkansas School Board Association, and Mississippi County Baptist Association board.
Laura serves as pianist at the Dell First Baptist Church and works with the Girls Scouts, 4-H, soccer and softball coach, and is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma.
They all coach or have coached their children's various teams.
Mississippi County Extension Agent Dave Freeze said the Lammers family is a great choice for this year's Farm Family of the Year.
"This family is doing Mississippi County proud," Freeze said.