What is in this article?:
- Thomas Neblett, Sunrise Planting Co., Clarksdale, Miss., 22, is literally one of the youngest farmers in America. With the average age of U.S. farmers at 60, and with estimates that over half of American farmland will change hands in the next 20 years, Neblett seems all the younger.
Producer Thomas Neblett, 22, is holding tight to the reins of Sunrise Planting Co., Clarksdale, Miss. “I had a chance and I wasn’t going to pass it up. I knew I could take a great opportunity and make it even better.”
Look to the father
Neblett doesn’t whitewash the weight of responsibility, particularly for a 22-year-old. He says the amount of work required in running Sunrise is sometimes dizzying — with bills, paperwork, equipment maintenance, scheduling and hands-on work all vying for his time. “I try to do every single thing I can do on the farm — my feet in the field. The busier I get, the harder it is for me to mind everything I’ve got to keep track of — but this is me; this is what I love to do.”
Where does a 22-year-old get the drive and nerve to man the helm of a 2,400-acre operation? Look to the father.
“My dad rides his land every week and picks out the smallest imperfections. No matter how busy I am, if he sees pigweed in the wrong place or grass needing mowing, he lets me know about it. No matter what is going on, he wants to be sure I know what needs to be taken care of. He wants me to be the best I can be; always pushing me to be better and work harder. I think that has a whole lot to do with why I have my work ethic now. I have so much to be grateful for. As annoying as he was when I was growing up, I’m now so glad he was like that,” Neblett says.
Born and raised in Clarksdale, Neblett holds a deep love for the land of Sunrise Planting Co., and considers it his home. But he also recognizes that his hands-on role at Sunrise may change in time as he hopes to follow in his father’s path. “I will have to step up to the plate to help my dad at some point. It’s my responsibility to be the best steward of our family land.”
Sunrise’s acreage is split up in 1,000 soybean acres, 800 corn acres, and 600 rice acres. Neblett planted 580 acres of cotton last year, but followed the grain winds in 2013 and put his cotton money in corn and rice.
See here for a photo gallery of Neblett and the Sunrise crew.
Cotton is what Neblett would love to grow: It’s the crop that his family legacy is built on, but like all farmers, he wants his dollar to go long and he’s confident the grain markets will hold strong for the long-term. He has five storage bins, not including one bin currently under construction. And he’s looking to build more — as many as he can afford. “More than likely it’s going to keep on being a grain world. Storage is crucial; it can be the difference between you making it one year and not. If you can store your grain and deliver it in different months at different prices and different bases, then your storage costs and bins can pay for themselves very quickly.”