By Marlee Jackson
Alabama farmers Brady and Anna Peek today claimed third place in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Achievement Award contest for the nation’s top young farm families.
The Peeks, who raise row crops in Lauderdale and Limestone counties, were honored during AFBF Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is the second consecutive year Alabama’s representatives have finished in the Top 3.
“It’s an honor.” Brady said. “Everyone there was deserving. To be there was humbling, but to get the opportunity to farm every day is humbling as well. We didn’t know if that would be possible. To be recognized as outstanding is icing on the cake.”
As third-place honorees, the Peeks receive a $2,500 Investing in Your Future grant from AmericanAg; $2,500 in merchandise from Stanley Black & Decker; and a safe sponsored by Case IH. They qualified for the national contest after winning the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Outstanding Young Farm Family competition last summer. Their state prize package was worth nearly $80,000, thanks to sponsors Alfa Insurance, Alabama Ag Credit, Alabama Farm Credit, John Deere, SunSouth and TriGreen.
“If you win, the prizes are great, but what you get besides that is worth even more,” Brady said, highlighting the application portion of the contest. “We’ve learned about ourselves, charted growth and physically written down dreams and aspirations. We’ve learned about each other as well. All of that has been invaluable.”
The Peeks’ national accolade followed an intense Achievement Award application process, where they delved into farm growth, community involvement and Farm Bureau leadership. They were named Top 10 finalists Saturday during the convention. That earned them a berth in the interview round with a panel of industry experts.
Achievement Award applicants are 18-35 years old and receive most of their income from production agriculture.
Federation Young Farmers Division Director Hunter McBrayer said the Peeks’ eye for innovation and dynamic farm operation led to their national honor.
“Brady has a willingness to do things different,” McBrayer said. “He has been able to chart his own way, and I’m incredibly proud of him and Anna. This is just another step in the right direction for their family farm.”
Though Brady hails from a generational farm family, cultivating Peek land wasn’t a sure bet. His father, Jeff, left farming to focus on the family’s equipment business when Brady was 12.
Four years later, a desire to farm pushed Brady to plant 100 acres of soybeans with help from local farmers and his father.
Since that 2010 growing season, Brady has gradually improved yields on corn, cotton, soybeans and wheat through nutrient management, cover crops, GPS technology and increased irrigation. He and Anna married in 2018, and they now annually farm 2,000 acres in one of Alabama’s fastest-growing areas. To preserve their ability to farm, the Peeks have gradually bought land, maintained healthy relationships with landlords and cleared timberland.
Skills learned in his father’s shop help Brady run modern equipment with minimal expense. He sources machinery across the country, performs repairs and uses the equipment for a season. It’s then marketed worldwide.
The Peeks custom farm, too, and haul grain and poultry litter. This diversifies their business, maximizes equipment and helps neighboring farmers.
Anna joined the farm full time last year after son Ridgeway was born. She taps into skills from her former career as a teacher to reach consumers with their fledgling agritourism operation, which includes a flower patch and sweet corn field. Their produce is then sold locally and promoted on social media.
While growing Peek Family Farms, the Peeks have cultivated involvement in the Federation, where they serve on the State Wheat & Feed Grain Committee. Anna serves on the local Women’s Leadership Committee, while Brady graduated from the premier A.L.F.A. Leaders program, chairs the State Soybean Committee and has served as State Young Farmers Committee chair.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is the nation’s largest general farm organization, representing farm families in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The Alabama Farmers Federation is a partner of AFBF and has 354,000 members in all 67 Alabama counties.