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Hempstead County farmer honored

By Sunbelt Ag Expo, 11/8/22 4:08 PM

MOULTRIE, GA – Three farmers from Delta region states were honored as state farmers of the year at the 2022 Sunbelt Expo held in Moultrie, Ga., in mid-October. The awards were sponsored by Swisher. One of those farmers is from Hempstead County.

Chris Sweat, a fourth-generation farmer who grew up on a full-time poultry and cow/calf operation, attended Southern Arkansas University where he received a BS degree in Agriculture Education in 1997 and a Master’s degree in Agriculture in 2009. He met his wife, Denise, who also grew up on a farm, at a 4-H livestock event. She graduated from Southern Arkansas University as well with a BS in Agriculture Business in 2000. Knowing they wanted to raise their family on a farm, they started with 27 acres in Montgomery County.

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Chris Sweat, 2022 Arkansas Farmer of the Year. (Sunbelt Ag Expo)

In 2003, they bought their first 80 acres in Hempstead County and harvested some timber to start working on the foundation piece to their farm where their home, built in 2007, is now located. He and his family have built that up to a total of 1110 acres currently operated, with 780 acres rented and 330 acres owned.

On the livestock side, he owns 120 head of commercial cows/calves; 60 head of registered seed stock (Simmental/Simbrah); 20 to 30 head of recipient cows for embryo transfer; and runs 50 to 100 head of hair sheep seasonally.

“In 2015 we started breeding our registered Simmental cows with registered Simbrah bulls to produce Simbrah cattle,” Sweat said. “The Simbrah cattle have slightly more “ear,” and are more tolerable in the heat and are extremely marketable in the Texas show cattle market.”

Sweat is a co-owner and founder of the Sheep and Goat Buying Station in Hope, Ark. The buying station was established in 2009 with a close family friend, Jesse Duckett.

Stacey R. Stone, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research & Extension Agent, nominated Sweat.

“I remember Chris from the days when we were ag teachers competing in the same contests,” Stone said. “He’s always been an innovator, especially with his work on the Sheep and Goat Station. He also started a new pen sale show at the state fair where he’s volunteered many hours and served as the beef superintendent over the years.”

Stone added, “Chris is a really sharp guy who has the gift of figuring out ways to do things with minimal effort that result in maximum results. We’ve done different projects together, including trapping feral hogs on his farm and soil testing that improved his fertilizing techniques. Chris’s wife Denise has also been of immense help and support in all their agricultural undertakings.”