By Jeff Helms
When Chris Langley bought his first heifer and pulpwood truck at age 16, he probably never dreamed 35 years later he’d compete for the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award.
Then again, maybe he did.
“I believe you can do anything you set your mind to if you work hard,” Langley said. “The harder you work and the more you put in it, the more you’ll have and get out of it.”
It’s a proven philosophy for Chris and wife Elizabeth. From humble beginnings, the winners of Alabama’s 2017 Farm of Distinction built a successful cattle and timber business spanning 2,650 acres. It includes a 320-cow commercial beef herd and three mechanized logging crews.
“I started when I was a kid with goats, rabbits, chickens and pigs,” Langley recalled. “My father helped me get financed with a pulpwood truck and a 440 John Deere skidder. I started logging when I was old enough and have been logging ever since.”
Langley is among 10 finalists competing for the overall award to be announced Oct. 17 at the Sunbelt Expo in Moultrie, Georgia. He will receive a $2,500 cash award, a $500 gift certificate from the Southern States Cooperative and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply. The overall Farmer of the Year wins a $15,000 cash prize, use of a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year from Massey Ferguson North America and other prizes.
As Alabama’s winner, the Langleys won a John Deere Gator from SunSouth, TriGreen and AgPro dealers; a $1,000 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative; and an engraved farm sign from Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance.
A fifth-generation farmer, Langley said his goal is to provide an opportunity for his and Elizabeth’s children to live and work on the farm.
Their oldest, Christopher, is a volunteer firefighter and runs a logging crew. Charlie attends the University of Arkansas at Monticello on a rodeo scholarship, and their third son, Chandler, is active in the Alabama and Chambers County Young Farmers programs. Daughter Chelsea attends Wadley High School, participates in barrel racing and gives horse-riding lessons to young children.
“That’s our future,” Langley said. “We’ve got to take our youth now and train them for the future. If we don’t get these young people more involved, to know where the products come from in agriculture and forestry, a lot of them won’t ever know.”
The Langleys are county and state leaders in the Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama Cattlemen’s Association. Past honors include being Alabama’s Outstanding Young Farm Family in 1996.
To learn more, watch Simply Southern Show 314 at SimplySouthernTV.net.