“I think we will more and more have to be reliant on owned land. As the older landlords die, their heirs often have no interest in renting land, particularly with the way the economy is. They’d rather sell and have that immediate larger sum of money.”

For 17 years, Kevin says, Simpson Farms also included a sod operation. “But when the housing market went bust in 2008, that business pretty much went south. We stuck with it until 2010, but there just wasn’t enough business to justify the people, equipment, and acreage involved, so we put that 500 acres back into crops.”

But he kept the farm’s airstrip, and says he soon plans to resume flying in order to shorten the time for trips to their home on the White River in Arkansas and to their Texas farms.

Growing up in a farming family, there was never any doubt about what he wanted to do, Kevin says.

“Farming is all I’ve ever known. Since I was old enough to stand up on the seat of a pickup truck with my father, I pretty much knew this would be my life. I started driving a tractor at age 7, and except for my ag econ studies at Mississippi State University, I’ve been right here on the farm. I made a lot of good connections at MSU — people I still work with today and rely on for information and advice.

“Dad had a partner in the farming operation until 1989, and when the partner retired I was able to buy his share. Dad and I were 50/50 partners until his death. Now, my mother, Joyce, and I are partners.”

Kevin has served as a vice president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation for two years, is currently president of the Benton County Farm Bureau, and a member of the Mississippi Soybean Association board of directors.

While all the facets of the farming operation require his attention seven months of the year, he says, “One of the great benefits is having time in the rest of the year for hunting and fishing and family activities.”

His 15-year old son, Kyle, an avid outdoorsman, recently bagged “the buck of a lifetime” in a field just behind the farm headquarters.

“He had gone out early one morning to shoot some coyotes we’d been seeing,” Kevin says. “He never saw a coyote, but there were seven bucks in the corn field. He picked what he thought was the biggest one; it had a massive rack. There’s a possibility it may be a record or near-record. Rick Dillard, a founder of the Mississippi Magnolia Records program, measured the non-typical 19-point animal as a main-frame 10 with 9 stickers, at 195 6/8 net.

 

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“That was just part of a rare streak of luck for Kyle. Shortly after bagging the deer, we caught caught 70 fish in less than two hours at our place on the White River, and then a few days later he killed a big wild boar hog in Tennessee.”

Deer are a problem on some of his farm land, Kevin says, particularly in neighboring Marshall County. “People who have mini-farms in the area don’t want the deer killed, and they’re so bad we don’t even try to grow soybeans there. Wild hogs are also becoming a problem in that county, particularly in corn fields.”

 

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