When John Freeman said goodbye to his hometown of Dumas and hit the road to attend college almost eight hours away, he had little interest in careers outside of farming. He grew up on a farm and helped his dad in high school. And as the saying goes, “Farming gets in your blood.” In 1989, after graduating from the University of Arkansas with an ag business degree, he planted his first crop.
His dad wasn’t the best at yields, but he instilled a great farm ethic in John. John also credits Phil Tacker and Lanny Ashlock for influencing his approach to farming. But most of what John learned came from hands-on experience in the fields. He said, “It’s one thing to sit in a class. It’s another to apply textbook and practical knowledge.”
As a member of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, John wants to raise awareness about nematodes, predominately in southeast Arkansas. The damage they create can be hard to see, and he hopes for more research leading to better control options.
Favorite soyfoods: Animals that eat soy.
Impact of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board in your words: It’s been tremendous, a great resource for farmers, farm families and students with interest in agriculture. But we still have hurdles, like educating urban families on where their food comes from. There’s not as great a connection to the farm as there used to be.
Why farming? I love harvesting good soybeans; it’s very rewarding. Farmers are humble – we can bust our butts to get work done and then two hours after we finish it rains. Every day is different; you can’t have a set plan. You go from meeting with consultants in the winter to spending 12-to-14 hour days in the field during planting season. Summer is more structured, and then it’s time to harvest. You spend all day on the combine until about 9 p.m., and when you’re done, you start planning for next spring.
Favorite non-soyfood use: Biodiesel. It’s underutilized but has so many benefits. Everyone should use it.