Chris and Denise Sweat of McCaskill (Hempstead County) are the 2020 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year. The honor was announced last week during a virtual event honoring the county and district Farm Families of the Year.
The Sweats have two daughters,17-year-old Sara and 13-year-old Anna. Their 505-acre farm consists of natural mixed timber, along with hay, cattle, registered seedstock, hair sheep and Californian and Jersey Wooly rabbits.
Chris is a fourth-generation farmer and he and Denise have been farming together for 23 years. Chris is founder and co-owner of the Sheep and Goat Buying Station in Hope. The station was established in 2009 and has helped grow the sheep and goat industry in southwest Arkansas, marketing approximately 3,000 sheep and goats annually.
The Sweats’ registered seedstock are marketed and promoted by livestock shows and the majority of their registered cattle are sold to Texas 4-H and FFA members as show projects.
“It’s a great honor,” Chris Sweat said after the announcement. “It makes me think of all the Farm Families of the Year before us – some of them were great mentors for us. It was great just be selected as the Hempstead County Farm Family, then to go on and be our District winner was even more overwhelming to us. To learn we were chosen as the state Farm Family winner is just very humbling.”
“We congratulate Chris and Denise Sweat on being named the 2020 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year,” said Ashley Wallace, state coordinator for the Farm Family of the Year program. “This has been one of the most challenging years for Arkansas farmers and ranchers because they’ve had to deal with disruptions caused by the pandemic. The Sweats have demonstrated resiliency by persevering through these challenges, while continuing to build their business and serve the farming and ranching community of southwest Arkansas.”
The program, now in its 73rd year, is the longest-running farm family recognition program of its type in the United States.
Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas, and Farm Credit Midsouth are sponsors of the program.
Additional program support is provided by the Arkansas Agriculture Department; Arkansas Department of Career Education; the Arkansas Press Association, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture; and USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Rural Development.