In a country where town and city names repeat, Gary Sitzer hails from the one and only Weiner, Arkansas. This fourth-generation farmer’s family started in Weiner, and that’s where they stayed. Initially growing rice and raising cattle, it wasn’t until sometime between the 1950s and 1960s that they started growing soybeans.
Only farming on about 400 acres by the time he left to pursue his bachelor of science in ag business at Arkansas State University, roughly 45 minutes away, Gary knew something needed to change if he and his younger sister wanted a future on the farm. Thanks to neighbors without children to pass their farm down to, Gary knew renting and managing theirs and other farms was an option. Through his determination and the work ethic instilled in him by his father and other family members, Gary was able to take his father’s 400 acres and turn it into something sustainable for himself, his sister and their futures.
As a member of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, Gary wants people to learn it is a big business and it’s risky. This industry consists of predominately family-owned operations competing in a global marketplace, which is why he works to make sure producers know their checkoff dollars are funding research directed at problems farmers face.
Roles outside of the ASPB:
- Past Chair, Arkansas Soybean Association
- Helped launch the Grow for the Green Soybean Yield Challenge
- Past Chair, Farm Credit of Arkansas
- Member since 1985
- Past President, Poinsett County Farm Bureau
- Member since the 1970s
- Advisory Board, Bernard’s Regional Medical Center
Why grow soybeans? It is an easily measured occupation – plant, grow, harvest. It’s a constant challenge but motivating to say, “We can do better next year.”
Favorite soyfoods: Since the Kitchen|Fields Table Tour launch dinner, the warm soymilk from Three Fold Noodles + Dumpling Co. It’s the best I’ve had.
What makes soybeans interesting: The sheer number of uses and how they continue to find more – it’s just amazing how it keeps growing and is such a diverse market. You can have a market with 1,000 units or 100 markets, each with 10 uses. It’s the same value, but one is more diverse.