HIGHFILL -- On Friday morning at their rural Highfill farm, Wes and Laura Evans, their daughter Emma, 14, and son Weston, 11, were honored as the Benton County 2023 Farm Family of the Year.
The family raises beef cattle in rural Highfill. It owns or manages 560 head of mature cows, raises hay and pasture on more than 1,000 acres, operates a fence and fabrication business, a liquid feed dealership, does farm truck and tractor repairs and operates Arkansas Pet Services.
Emma and Weston are both very active in 4-H. Emma is also an active member of Gentry FFA.
The family and their varied enterprises were commended as an excellent example of hard work, dedication, a drive to succeed and a focus on family.
"Raising cattle is great," Wes said. "There is something about seeing a new baby calf being born, getting up, and its mom licking it off. That makes it all worth it," he said.
He added that he loves being able to raise his kids on the farm. "That's pretty special," he said.
Wes and Laura bought their farm 18 years ago and have been building and adding to it ever since. Both have been involved in farming operations all their lives. They grew up on dairy farms.
Wes said he chose to be a beef farmer rather than a dairy farmer so he wouldn't have to get up at four every morning to milk cows. He said milk prices also contributed to his decision. He said raising beef is like retirement for a dairy farmer.
Laura said she has always been involved in farming and that the farmland is a beautiful place to live and work. She worked as a nurse for 16 years but now manages Arkansas Pet Services, a business the family recently purchased that provides animal cremation services.
The Evans family is also active in the Benton County Pasture to Plate program. Wes said the program, now in its second year, teaches youth "the ins and outs" of the beef-producing business. He said the program "gives kids opportunities to see what farming is all about," from feeding calves to record-keeping to meat science and marketing. He added that the program sparks an interest in agriculture in area youth.
He said many area youths are involved in showing animals at the fair, but this program gives them a bigger picture of what is involved in raising beef from the pasture to the plate.
In addition to the Farm Family of the Year award presented by Jim Singleton, chairman of the Benton County Farm Family of the Year selection committee, the Evans family received recognition from State Rep. Delia Haak, U.S. Congressman Steve Womack and County Judge Barry Moehring.