For Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation 2020 Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award winners, Brian and Ashley Rhodes, their farm in Rankin County is their own little slice of heaven. It brings them immense joy to raise their children, Lucy, Anna Belle and Casper, on their poultry and cattle farm.
“We love being able to raise our children on the farm and have them involved,” Ashley says. “I think it’s important for them to learn how to take care of livestock. We think it also teaches them how to take care of themselves.”
Both Brian and Ashley grew up on their families’ farms. Still, Brian was well on his way to working toward a different career until a call from his father nudged him back in the right direction.
“He called to tell me about a farm that was out of production,” Brian says. “It kind of caught my interest, so I came home and we checked it out together. With his guidance, I was able to purchase that older farm and completely retrofit it to meet current production standards.”
Today, Brian is the Rankin County Farm Bureau president and represents his district on the state Board of Directors. The Rhodes see Farm Bureau as one of the most important influencers to their way of life, not only from a policy and advocacy standpoint, but in bringing like-minded people together to solidify agriculture and farming in the state for years to come.
“It’s very eye‑opening to see what other farmers are going through,” Brian says. “A lot of times, their struggles relate back to some of the same issues we face. From a political side, Farm Bureau has been very beneficial. We really enjoy being able to get involved.”
“I am super proud of Brian for all his accomplishments on and off the farm,” Ashley says. “The kids and I see how hard he works to make sure the farm looks nice and that the cows and chickens are taken care of correctly.”
Winning the MFBF YF&R Achievement Award during the COVID-19 pandemic will add another reason why the Rhodes will not forget 2020. Despite the kinks the pandemic threw into their lives, they tried to find the positive in the situation.
“This year, everyone in the household got to wear different hats,” Ashley says. “Brian and I had to take on the role of teacher, not only on the farm, but academically. It was a challenge to teach all three of them at the same time, but having them home allowed us to take a step back and really remember why we farm in the first place.”
“With so much being canceled, we spent a lot more time together on the farm,” Brian says. “I would say that would have to be the silver lining to it all. It also allowed us to stop and appreciate our hard work and really celebrate this award.”
For winning this award, Brian and Ashley received a new Ford F-150 pickup truck and $500, compliments of Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company; 250 hours use of a Kubota tractor of their choice, compliments of Kubota; 100 hours use of a 150 horsepower John Deer tractor of their choice, compliments of John Deere; $500, compliments of Southern AgCredit; $500, compliments of Gray-Daniels Ford; and $1,800 for technological improvements to their farm, compliments of Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.