By Justen Ollendick, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern: Integrity, honesty, fairness, and a good handshake are all important factors that Shawn says young people in agriculture need to start out knowing and practicing. This family has homesteaded on the same land for 132 years, and are dedicated to their community and all that they are involved in. Let's meet Arizona Agriculture’s Shawn Wright and family…

An interview with Shawn Wright – Eden, Arizona

Part of an ongoing series about Arizona farming and ranching families.

Tell us about your farm, ranch, or agribusiness operation(s): I am involved in the agribusiness sector as a manager of the Fertizona Plant in Thatcher, Arizona. I have been here for ten year. I come from a farming family; my great great grandparents settled in Eden, Arizona in 1883, where I currently reside. We actually do not farm the land any longer, but the land has been handed down in the family. My oldest son Kaden and his family here in Eden, along with his son,Kotler, makes the 7th generation of our family. I have also managed a ranch in the Santa Teresa (Graham County) for the past 11 years that as a family we are involved in. 

Shawn Wright with his grandson, which would make the 7th generation in Arizona agriculture. 

Why did you choose to go into agriculture? Probably because of the example that my grandparents set for me. I enjoy working with the people that have the same interests that I have.

What changes have you seen in your lifetime as it relates to farming, ranching, or agribusiness? Automation; when I first started here at Fertizona, we did most things on paper. Now that has evolved into using a computer to complete the paperwork that we do; also lot more regulations and control. A lot more control from the government, and regulation. Arizona Agriculture asked how the regulation has affected the business, Shawn says: Yes, it has. It’s affected on my end that I am regulated with the products that the farmers can and cannot use, and that has created a snowball effect.

Will anyone in your family - younger generation - pursue farming, ranching, or agribusinessI have 4 sons and one daughter, my oldest son Kaden and my 17-year-old son, Colton works for me here at the Thatcher plant. My son Tyson works for Fertizona out of Hermosillo, Mexico, and I have a 14-year-old son, Zach who loves to rope and is raising calves and chickens. He and Makenzie are raising hogs for the Graham County Fair.

Would you ever consider changing your business model, from the standpoint of a branch manager? One thing that we have to get real familiar with here in the Gila Valley is restrictions on water. We’ve got some big issues, the growers are basically having to re-invent the wheel with how to grow more with less water. It has been an educational process. We must constantly changing to survive.

The Wright family from left to right: Hannah, Kaden, Kolter, Colton, Wife Jennifer of 25 years, Shawn, Tyson, Makenzie and Zach. Farm and ranch families are the backbone of this country.

What are your community activities? I am on the school board in Pima, serve on the board of the Eastern Arizona Museum and Historical Society, Scout Master, and then serving as a Graham County Farm Bureau Member.

What do you enjoy doing? Anything with my family; all of my boy’s rope with me. We are also very involved in church activities.  

Why are you a farm bureau member? I am a board member, have been for the last 1 ½ years. It’s great. My father-in-law was a dairyman in Chandler, Arizona, and he said next to church, Farm Bureau came second. My grandpa Kempton who was a farmer his whole life was involved with Farm Bureau here in Graham County.

How will the next generation of agribusiness leaders have to operate? It goes back to the regulations. The regulations are getting stricter and tighter. We used to be able to use common sense, but now we’re being told what that common sense is. Years ago, when I was a kid, I was told there was nothing common about sense anymore. I think about the future. Considering what I know now, my sons are going to have to know about regulatory requirements with more in-depth than what I’ve dealt with. The younger generation is going to have to stay up on politics to keep ahead.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given and/or experience? Or, what business-oriented advice would you give young farmers/beginning farmers? The best advise that I was ever given was integrity. Always have integrity; be honest and fair with everyone, then you’ll never have to explain yourself. Always be fair and honest in your dealing. To me, a handshake is always better than anything written on paper.Agriculture is a unique business. Something never change, but business is always changing, at a fast pace.

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