Arkansas Century Farm Program Honors 32 Farm Families from 29 Counties
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Governor Asa Hutchinson was joined by Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture in inducting 32 additional Arkansas farms into the Arkansas Century Farm Program November 5, 2021.
Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, contributing more than $21 billion to the state’s economy annually and providing one of every six jobs in the state. Arkansas consistently ranks in the top 25 nationally in the production of more than 15 agricultural commodities.
526 farms are currently recognized as Arkansas Century Farms throughout the state. The 32 newly inducted Century Farms are located in the following 29 counties: Arkansas, Benton, Boone, Bradley, Carroll, Clay, Cleburne, Craighead, Dallas, Desha, Faulkner, Fulton, Garland, Hot Spring, Howard, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lonoke, Monroe, Nevada, Ouachita, Perry, Prairie, Pulaski, Scott, St. Francis, White, and Yell.
Martin Tree Farm owner Robert Kyle Martin of Texarkana, Arkansas was one of 32 inductees in the 2021 Century Farm Program. The 120 acre Loblolly Pine Tree Farm is located in Prescott, Arkansas in Nevada County. Martin Tree Farm was established in 1912 and has been in the family 109 years. Martin Tree Farm was certified by the Arkansas Forestry Commission Forest Stewardship in 2006. In 2013 Martin Tree Farm was third party audited earning American Tree Farm Certification (ATFS).
If you have 10 acres or more of Forest land do you have what it takes to create a Family Legacy Tree Farm and leave an income stream to your heirs.
Growing up in South Arkansas I always enjoyed visiting my grandparents. We would get up early in the morning eat a hearty breakfast and work outside and in the garden. We would come inside by noon eat a healthy lunch and Fishing in the evening. As we trekked down in the bottom land, we would cross Family Forest land that had a natural stand of Pine Trees and Hardwoods. My Grandfather would tell me how it provided them an income stream for a comfortable retirement. He told me he always wanted to manage the forest but wanted to leave it for generations to provide them extra income to live life more comfortably. I never forgot what he said and years later it made Money Sense. Invest in your land Tree Farming.
After my grandparents passed away, my mother who was an only child, inherited the family property. My mother and father sold off 240 acres and cut timber on 120 acres and then in 1997 passed on the 120 acres to myself, brother and sister. My brother and I bought my sister out, and years later I bought my brother out and now own the 120-acre Family Forest. In the year 2000 we had a serious ice storm and a lot of the young pine trees were damaged. Wondering what to do next, I remembered what my grandfather always wanted was to manage the land. So, my Tree Farming experience started.
I contacted my District Forester, I was in District 4 in South Arkansas, a Forestry Consultant and we assessed the property what best to do next. Their recommendation was to cut the remaining Timber, clear the property and reinvest the proceeds. They also recommended I sign up through the Arkansas Forestry Commission Stewardship Program and they would create a management plan with Technical advice to manage my property. This at no cost to the landowner. I cut the remaining Timber about $27,648 and reinvested about $19,167 back into 46 acres that was damaged. After harvesting the remaining Timber, I hired a contractor to shear, and rake, the 46 acres to prepare it for planting. They left the remaining tops and debris in wind rows to be burned. We were unable to burn due it being in the winter wet season. The remaining 74 acres was left to grow as is. After my management plan was completed in 2001, I began to follow it per the Technical expertise of Forestry experts. The Forestry Stewardship Management Plan was written by the Arkansas Forestry Commission District Forester with assistance from Consulting Forester, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The Management Plan specified I clear and replant the damaged 46 acres and leave the remaining 74 as is but recommended I spray by helicopter an Herbaceous spray to control understory competition and release of Pine production. Then hand plant 29,250 1st or 2nd generation improved Loblolly Pine at 7 x 10 foot spacing (622 trees per acre). Planting to be done in the months December through March. Here’s my journey and costs:
As you can see from the chart above, I received $27,648 from the harvest and clear cut of the 46-acre ice storm damaged acres. Paid consultant $2,211 8% commission, ordered 29,250 2nd Generation improved Loblolly Pine seedlings $1,404 (.048 cents/1,000), hired contractor to single pass site prep by Helicopter 15 GPA, 36 oz chopper, 4 oz Oust Extra, 8 oz Sunset for competition control and pine release, completed heavy mechanical site prep $8,100 $105/ac Shear, 85/ac Rake, and hired contractor to hand plant 29,250 2nd Gen Pine seedlings $1,932. My total costs were $19,167 but it made Money Sense.
The $8,100 spent was costly but as I look back today, it was well worth the money since the 46-acre tract is in shape to be efficiently managed for years to come. It enabled me to have a high 90+ % survival rate as reported by my County Forester after the 1st year of growth and maximized the maximum number of Loblolly Pine trees to grow on the tract. My management plan recommended I sign up with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for potential cost share practices. I recommend you do this because I received a 50 % cost share reimbursement of $2,760 for the Single Pass Site Prep competition control and pine release. When you sign up with NRCS they will rank you based on completed qualified practices with other landowners and Federal money available as an incentive for landowners to be good stewards.
Based on the soil sample of my management plan the soil has good potential for Loblolly Pine (Site Index 96). I plan to predominately plant Loblolly Pine on the 120-acre Tree Farm.
After completing planting 29,250 seedlings on the 46-acre tract in January 2004 and spraying for competition control and pine release the survival rate was high 90+ %. I then went away and let it grow only doing a yearly walk of the land to monitor growth. After completing the practices in my management plan, I was audited and received Forest Stewardship Certification and a sign to post on my Property.
My District Forester forwarded my information to the American Tree Farm System (ATFS). I was 3rd party audited for completing my practices per the ATFS Standards of Sustainability and received ATFS Tree Farm Certification and sign in 2013.
I stayed in contact with my Forestry Consultant in January 2019 and after 15 years it was time to thin the 46-acre planted tract and clear cut the remaining 74 acres. Pulpwood and saw log prices have been depressed for years but you have to make business decisions and cut pulpwood and sawtimber or risk detrimental effects of overgrowth and lack of sunlight understory. I received $9.50 per ton for the pulpwood and $29.00 per ton for the saw logs. You hope that markets and prices will be there when time to cut but you still have to manage the land no matter the price. I am hoping for a better market in the years to come since I will have utility poles on the 46-acre tract at final cut which bring a premium price. It does payoff to be certified since it opens you up to more markets for certified wood and they usually pay a better price for your wood.
As of February 2019, my logger began thinning my 46-acre tract and completed clearcutting the remaining 74-acre tract July 2020 due to Covid-19 shutting mills down and also due to rains and wet weather. I generated a nice income stream and will replant the 74-acre tract. I plan to plant the 74-acre tract with 3rd Gen improved Loblolly Pine from the Arkansas Forestry Commission and compare to the 2nd Gen planted on the 46 acres for cost comparisons. You must continually assess, manage, and improve your land.
I contacted my District 4 Forester to update my Forest Management Plan. In April 2020 my updated management plan was completed. Here is the Management Plan recommendations:
Machine Plant Genetically Improved Loblolly Pine 7’ x 10’ spacing (622 TPA)
Machine plant genetically improved Loblolly Pine 7’x10’ spacing.
All figures are estimates on total tract size, the final numbers may vary on vendor invoices.
Order improved loblolly pine seedling early July 2020. Here's my current journey and costs:
Of the Timber income $64,922, I reinvested $10,159 back into the 70 acres that was clear-cut. I Paid the Forestry Consultant (Brandon Chandler Neil Forestry Consultants Magnolia, AR) $6,492 10% commission. In May 2020 I ordered 41,000 3rd Gen Loblolly Pine seedlings from Arkansas Forestry Commission at a cost of $2,460. Then in October 2020, hired Nutrien Ag Solutions (Greg Hay Reforestation Advisor) to aerial spray site prep 20 oz/ac Imazpyr, 128 oz Glycophosphate, 2 oz Detail. 4 oz Metasulfuron Methyl, 20 oz Conquer, 13.67 oz Water H2O @ $3,799 for Herbaceous weed control and pine release. In March 2021 contractor Dick Cayce Timber LLC machine planted 41,000 3rd generation improved Loblolly Pine at 7 x 10 foot spacing (622 trees per acre) at a cost of $3,900.
On 6/19/2021, I cruised the 120-acre Tree Farm to assess the 41,000 3rd Gen pine seedlings planted in March 2021. They appear to be well established with lots of new growth and well on their way to become saw logs or poles. My future plan is to use this aggressive approach to site preparation and high quality genetics to pine seedling selection to reach pine poles outcomes and maximum cost per ton. Pine poles bring consistently $60 to $80 per ton and prices do not fluctuate like pulpwood and saw timber prices. I will continue to update my Tree Farming journey and keep readers abreast of ups and downs as I pursue the more stringent criteria of growing transmission poles. My next practice will be in 5 – 8 years when I will potentially have my first final cut of transmission poles on my 46-acre tract planted in 2004 and thinned in 2019. Enjoy the video of Martin Tree Farm below:
If you have 10 acres or more of Forest land do you have what it takes to create a Family Legacy Tree Farm and leave an income stream to your heirs.
I recommend getting a college education so that you have a good earning potential with a solid company who pays a competitive salary or wage and offers a competitive benefits package including Medical, Dental, Vision, Profit Sharing, 401K with company matching etc. I had worked as a Summer Intern with Cooper Tire & Rubber Company my Junior year of college and had an opportunity for a position after graduation in 1982. I was offered and accepted a competitive Salary starting out in a Quality position. After 6 months on the job I was eligible for 401K Profit Sharing with company matching up to 6% of the amount I contributed of my salary. I started out contributing the 6% of my salary which is what I could afford, and the company matched up to that amount, so I was getting a 12% contribution in my 401K account even though I contributed only 6%. You can’t get that kind of return at any bank. I slowly increased my contribution 2% each year after my progress review and pay increase until I reached 14% in my 25th year. At 6% company matching and 14% contribution I was socking away 20% each year.
What to invest in?
Cooper Tire offered a 401K with a taxable or tax-deferred account based on your contribution level. Over the years I did contribute to both, but the majority was tax-deferred which defers paying taxes on what you contribute to your 401K now but defers it until you retire where you will probably be in a lower tax bracket. Having a small amount in your 401K taxable account made sense as an emergency fund if needed and it was needed. So, you may want to sock some in a taxable account but not required. Do what makes good Money Sense but contribute to a tax-deferred 401K account for the tax benefits of not counting toward your total income but deferring to later years when you retire.
Cooper Tire 401K offered potential investments in cash with interest, money markets, mutual funds domestic and overseas funds, and Cooper Stock itself which was the most aggressive. Since I was 23 years old and had many years to grow my account, I chose Cooper stock because they were doing very well financially and split the stock. The stock had split in 1983, 1988, 1990, and 1992. I was able to start buying Cooper Stock about $12 per share in 1983 and with continuing increased contribution amounts and company matching over the years and three stock splits in ’88, ’90, and ’92 amassed 16,000 + shares of Cooper Tire stock. I would be aggressive investing in the early years and slowly reduce that risk as you get closer to retirement.
After buying Cooper Tire stock for 25 years Cooper Tire and Apollo Tire struck a deal in 2013 and Cooper stock jumped 40%. I sold all my shares and collected approximately $600,000. The deal later fell through and did not happen, but I pulled the trigger at the right time. I had opened an Individual Retirement Account with Vanguard and had the money transferred to Vanguard which can be done online and executed by the trustee between Cooper Tire and Vanguard. I chose Vanguard because they offer the lowest fees for funds and transactions especially if you are an experienced investor. Otherwise, Fidelity, ETRADE, TDAmeritrade etc., offer more analytical, trading tools, and learning tools for the beginning investor.
I took my $600,000 nest egg in June 2013 and after setting up my Vanguard account began to research opportunities to invest in. After a couple of months tracking the stock market on CNBC and online research sources, I chose Altria Group Inc. (MO) in the Consumer Defensive sector, Tobacco Industry, and Blackstone Group L.P. (BX) Financial Services sector, Asset Management Industry. Both investments offer growth and dividends which means you get paid every quarter each year. You can either reinvest the dividends and buy more stock which means more shares and more dividend income or withdraw the dividends to your checking account to supplement your retirement or use the dividend cash account for new investment opportunities.
I invested $457,000 of my $600,000 nest egg in Altria (MO) $325,000 and Blackstone Group (BX) $132,000. After 4 years in June 2017 my Vanguard IRA was over $1,000,000+. That’s approximately a 40% return in Altria (MO) and a 50% return in Blackstone Group (BX) in 4 years. The remaining $143,000 of my original $600,000 nest egg is invested in Solar and Cannabis stocks.
Retirement and Income Streams
After my retirement May 2018, I now have income streams from my IRA Altria (MO) and Blackstone Group (BX) dividends, my pension from Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, my 120-acre Loblolly Pine Tree Farm, and not yet old enough to draw Social Security Income. I currently could draw $70,000 per year from dividends and Pension. I do not live on $70,000 a year but much less, so you don’t have to draw all this income, but you do have to be strategic about it due to the IRS rules, income limits, and tax brackets. The truth is it is as hard to grow and retire on a $1,000,000+, as it is to hang on to it without giving back to Uncle Sam. I plan to take profits from my investments in Solar, Cannabis, and Tree Farm and invest in future income streams.
I plan to use this blog to share my path to financial freedom, teach others, continue to learn and share with others how to save, budget, grow assets, invest, develop income streams and have financial freedom.