The DeSalvo family of Center Ridge (Conway County) is the 2012 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year, announced recently at the annual Farm Family Day luncheon honoring the county and district Farm Families of the Year.

Tony DeSalvo, along with his son Phillip and daughter-in-law Beth, own Big D Ranch, a 1,300-acre cattle and hay operation. Phillip and Beth have two children, 8-year-old Benjamin and 6-year-old Isabella.

Big D Ranch consists of a 350-head commercial cow-calf operation, 150-head of registered Ultrablack cattle, which includes 30-40 registered bulls. The DeSalvos are believed to have the largest herd of registered Ultrablack cattle in Arkansas. Additionally, they grow around 900 acres of wheat and sorghum sudan silage and bermuda hay.

The first generation of DeSalvos settled near Center Ridge in the late 1800s.

“The DeSalvos are another great example of the many successful and efficient family farming operations that exist in Arkansas,” said Andy Guffey, coordinator of the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program. “They are diligent protectors of the natural resources used in growing their forage and pastures, and are a prime model of a hard-working, multi-generation farm family.”

Phillip is a member of the Conway County and Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Beth is a substitute teacher and volunteer at Nemo Vista Elementary School, where Tony drove a school bus for 13 years. The family also serves in numerous capacities at St. Joseph Catholic Church.

As Arkansas’ Farm Family of the Year, the DeSalvos will compete in the 2013 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year program.

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