Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation
Agricultural News and Information
Roberts Win State Young Farmer Achievement Award
“Most people don’t understand the process that takes cotton
from the field to the store. Cotton is grown somewhere then spun into
cloth somewhere then made into clothes somewhere. Each year, we have the
second-grade students from our local schools come out and we do a cotton-picking
demonstration for them, trying to instill in their minds that, hey, the
guy who sits on the end of the pew with you at church helps to put the
food on your table and the clothes on your back.”
Humphreys County young farmers Pepper and Crystal Roberts of Belzoni do
their part to educate the consuming public about agriculture. That is
one reason they have been named state winners of the 2010 Mississippi
Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award contest.
They were recognized for their farming innovations, leadership skills,
and involvement in Farm Bureau and their community. The Roberts received
a new pickup truck, the use of John Deere and Kubota tractors, and various
cash awards. They will represent Mississippi in national competition in
Atlanta, Georgia, in January.
A fourth generation farmer, Pepper grows cotton, corn, and soybeans on
family land in the Mississippi Delta. Pepper now farms with help from
Crystal, who is responsible for the accounting/bookkeeping side of the
In addition to his own farming responsibilities, Pepper custom harvests
for other farmers in his area. He says local farmers swap out time. When
one farmer needs help, the others lend a hand and vice versa. Although
money doesn’t change hands, this form of custom harvesting is profitable
for all of the farms involved. Custom equipment hauling is another business
enterprise for the Roberts’ farm.
Among the challenges that Pepper and Crystal encountered during their
early years of farming was the inefficiency of using 8-row equipment to
work the land.
“We could not cover all of our acres in a timely manner nor could
we increase acres without more tractors and equipment,” Pepper said.
“Converting to 12-row equipment solved both problems. Another solution
to inefficiency on our farm was found in GPS Auto Trac and RTK guidance
systems. These give us greater efficiency in passes.”
As he and Crystal began to acquire more land through the years, Pepper
says they ran into the problem of not having enough spray booms to cover
the additional acreage.
“I figured the expense of hiring custom applicators and crop dusters
to spray our land,” he said. “The solution was the purchase
of a self-propelled high clearance sprayer.”
With farmers planting less cotton and more corn in the area, the result
was long lines at the local elevator. The Roberts built four 50,000-bushel
grain bins on the farm. These bins allow workers to start harvesting high
moisture corn early and deliver it as it was marketed.
Looking toward the future, Pepper says he would like to totally landform
all of his former catfish ponds. He raised farm-raised catfish until recent
years, when the operation turned exclusively to row crops.
“We have been farming this bottomland, and it doesn’t drain
very well,” he explained. “I’d also like to begin farming
rice. The water on the rice fields would bring the land back to its full
Pepper would like to see cotton make a comeback. He says he hopes to be
one of the first farmers in his county to own a new six-row round bale
Pepper and Crystal would also like to see their sons and daughter get
an education and have the opportunity to return to the family farm. All
of which brings up another important accomplishment. In recent years,
Pepper was able to help another young farmer get started in the business.
“One of my goals when I started farming was to help another young
person get established in agriculture,” he said. “The opportunity
to realize this goal came when I hired a young man from our county as
a farm manager in 2002. For the next six years, I custom-farmed land that
he had acquired, helping him with financing and decision- making. I am
proud to say that he was able to begin farming on his own in 2009.”
Pepper is a member of the Humphreys County Farm Bureau Board of Directors
and was the chair and organizer of his county’s Young Farmers and
chair of the Humphreys County Women’s Committee.
The Roberts served on the YF&R State Committee, for which she served
as secretary. They were delegates to Washington D.C. with the YF&R
State Committee and also attended the National YF&R Leadership Conference.
Pepper is a member of other local and state ag organizations and is active
in his local church, school and various civic groups.
He was named DuPont/Pioneer State Young Leader. The Roberts were local
coop representatives to the State Couples Cooperative Leadership Retreat,
and Pepper is past president/chairman of the Ag Engineering Technology
and Business Club at Mississippi State University.
For more information about the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Young
Farmers and Ranchers program, contact YF&R Coordinator Greg Shows
at 1-800-227-8244, ext. 4277, or 601-977-4277.
Farm Bureau Federation is the state's largest general farm
organization with more than 204,000 member-families statewide. There
are Farm Bureaus in all 82 counties in Mississippi
where agriculture comprises a fundamental part of
Mississippi 's economy.
Headquartered in Jackson
, the federation is an independent, non-profit agricultural
organization and is not associated with any arm of the government.
For more information about Farm Bureau, visit our website at www.msfb.com.