By Julie Murphree & Justen Ollendick, Arizona Farm Bureau: He’s known hard times; he’s known good times and through
An interview with Art Allen – Yuma County, Arizona
Part of an ongoing series about Arizona Agriculture’s Farming and Ranching families.
Tell us about your farming operation: Actually, I don’t really do much with the farm anymore, I’ve gotten to the age where I have been lucky enough to find two young men to do all of it for me. One is my son-in-law, Kent, and the other is John Boelts, operated under Desert Premium Farms here in Yuma County [Arizona Farm Bureau profiled the Boelts family recently in “Meet Arizona Agriculture’s Boelts Family"]. Five to six years ago I wanted to start to get these two into the farming business, with perpetuating the next generation of farmers in mind.
Art Allen, in the green shirt without a hard hat, joined the Yuma County Farm Bureau in breaking ground on their new office building that was recently completed. Allen is a big advocate of volunteer leadership and believes the next generation, the millennials, need to step. As the saying goes, "The world is run by those who show up."
Why did you choose to go into agriculture? Well, I don’t know that I chose it more than the love that I had for it was the reason why. Maybe it chose me; maybe it chose my family members before me, and hopefully my family members after me. That’s the real challenge, perpetuating the family farm. Even though our family farm is corporate, and it is much larger than anything we had ever imagined. Growing up with forty acres, and now a few thousand is a big change.
What changes have you seen in your lifetime as it relates to farming? We started way back when I was a child with the
My wife, Peggy's, family farming legacy dates back to
Julie added: It sounds like you’ve grown just about everything, but you’ve really gotten into the veggies…Art said: Well, I haven’t grown everything and I really don’t know that much about vegetables. The two young men that I talked about earlier, Kent [Inglett] and John [Boelts], only went to college for a little bit. They didn’t finish college. Instead, they went to work for
I looked at that and thought, okay, I want the family farm to continue. I am not necessarily a vegetable farmer; I am a farmer. But I knew that if we needed to go further than my generation, I had to innovate into something that I wasn’t comfortable with. But they work, they know the business and they know produce. So, I let them do the vegetables.
Will anyone in your family -
That’s my philosophy.
Would you ever consider changing your business model? Well yeah! We’ve modified and modified and modified. Coming from just doing cotton, alfalfa, and grain to doing produce is a modification and it may even morph into something else. If you don’t integrate into the system further and further and further, then you’re going to get left behind. Even though this company is just 4 to 5 years old now, as an entity if you don’t move with the times you are going to get lost.
What are your community activities? Art laughing…Church, Farm Bureau, coached sports on a non-professional basis you know. I coached baseball, love baseball. I love football but was never big or fast enough to do that though. I never started on a team, because if you’re not big enough or fast enough you won’t be able to do it. I don’t care what sport it is or what you do, it’s all desire. If you don’t have the desire, then don’t do it.
I don’t care if you want to be a doctor, neurosurgeon, or a chemist, we need all of those people. But if you don’t love it then by golly get out of it!
What is one fact/achievement nobody knows about you? I don’t have any. I was in the Air Force and did my four years during Vietnam. I was a crew chief on a jet aircraft. Four years was just enough for me. That’s about it.
What do you think you do really well? I am a communicator…that’s the term we decided to use in place of his wording J…and I can use stories to be a communicator. I use past experiences and try to make them humorous to use myself as an example what not to do. Believe me, if you’re in this business and haven’t made any mistakes, then you’re really not in this business. There’s a lot of mistakes you’re going to make and it’s all about how you get back up after you’ve had those experiences.
For example, in the 1980s I went totally broke farming. I went to work for Circle K for minimum wage, at night, to feed my family. Then I started over. At that time, we weren’t diversified like we are today. We didn’t have all of the types of crops that we do now to be able to produce and grow a variety of agriculture products.
It’s very embarrassing to go broke. But if you have the spirit, you have the will to get up from anything. If you quit, that’s your choice. But if you decide that you’re not going to quit, and start again, you have to first forgive yourself for failing…that’s the hardest part to do. But if you’ve failed enough times like I have, you’ll always get up because there is always something else to do.
Why are you a farm bureau member? You know, Farm Bureau is a grassroots organization and things that happen on the family farm and family industry
How will the next generation of farmers have to operate? Well. There is one thing I look at all the time when I am reading, there are more and more and more people being born in the world, and there are less and less and
In the long
Editor’s note: Art Allen was a crucial part of preventing local politicians from using the Yuma Crossing Heritage Area issue for political gain. Excerpted from a brochure produced by Yuma County Farm Bureau, “The Yuma County Farm Bureau organized the community to pass local legislation prohibiting local governments from using the Yuma Crossing Heritage Area designation to restrict the property rights of local
Without Art’s active involvement in this issue, the entire effort would have been that much more challenging. Leadership like Art’s serves as a valuable example of what our volunteer farmer and rancher leaders do on behalf of the industry on a regular basis. They are leaders that learn and apply grassroots-level advocating, working both sides of the political aisle to make sure political leaders understand our issues.