The Allens of Hot Spring County are the 2024 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year. Photo courtesy of Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation.
Category: Features

Bismarck business owners are Farm Family of the Year

Evie Allen at JA Farms Feed Mill which sells 20 varieties of custom feed mix. Photo by Nancy Meador.

In 1994, Jeremy Allen took out a Farm Service Agency (FSA) Loan and bought his first herd of cattle. He was 14. That’s when his entrepreneurial spirit first hit.

Thirty years later, Jeremy and his wife, Magen, own and operate a feed mill, a mercantile store, an auto parts store, a trucking company, a cattle and hay operation and a hardware store. Last December, they were recognized for their hard work as the 2024 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year.

“He’s quite the entrepreneur,” Magen says about Jeremy, who built businesses in his Hot Spring County town of Bismarck to meet the needs of his family and neighbors.

In 2007, Jeremy created a feed mill as a way to feed his own cattle. JA Farms Feed now sells 20 different varieties of custom feed mix for cattle, horses, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens and even deer. JA Farms Trucking delivers the feed to regional retail locations.

Once the feed business took off, they opened JA Farms Feed & Mercantile on Arkansas 7 in Bismarck in 2022.

“Our local hardware store closed down,” Magen explains. “Jeremy said he’d like to have hardware back in town for the community and ourselves. We were always running to town for a bolt.”

Entrepreneur Jeremy Allen built several businesses in Bismarck to help family and neighbors, including an auto parts dealership. Photo by Nancy Meador.

The community embraced the hardware business. And Jeremy had another idea — auto parts. So, JA Farms Feed & Mercantile became an authorized Bumper to Bumper auto parts dealer.

“The store really does encompass a lot. We’ve got everything from fishing poles to nuts and bolts,” Magen says. “Literally. There’s a whole wall of nuts and bolts.”
Jeremy chimes in laughing, “We have pool supplies coming this week!”

Homegrown hustle

Biscuit considers herself the quality control inspector at JA Farms Feed & Mercantile. Photo by Nancy Meador.

The businesses are a family affair with the help of their four children: Lane, age 19; Brody, age 16; Evie, age 10; and Eli, age 9.

Lane helps in the feed mill, runs the hay equipment and does the hay baling. He’s also a welder. Brody also helps in the hay fields and works at the auto parts counter. Eli helps with the retail side of the feed store.

And then there’s Evie, who doesn’t let her brothers outwork her on the farm. The pageant-girl-turned-rodeo-barrel-racer drives a tractor with hay baler.

“I just enjoy doing it,” Evie says. “It’s funner to do that instead of the work my brothers do in the hay.”

If owning and operating several businesses and having four active children isn’t enough to keep them busy, Magen also sits on the Arkansas Farm Bureau Board of Directors, and she is a member of the Bismarck School Board.

“We’re super involved in the community and our church,” Magen says. “We always support our FFA and sports programs and anything that our kids are involved in.”

She plays it off, saying “That’s just what we do.” But adds, “It’s also the most important thing to do.”

Down the road

JA Farms Feed is sold in bulk at JA Farms Feed & Mercantile. Photo by Nancy Meador.

As for Jeremy’s next big idea, he says he’s considering adding more lines to the mercantile store and possibly even a drive-thru for feed purchases.

“If our neighbors will come here first and give us a shot before they go to town, I’ll try to carry what they need,” he says.

The store is reminiscent of old mercantile establishments that sold a bit of everything, including bologna sandwiches.

“We get hit up for that!” Jeremy says, grinning. “We’re usually asked when we’re going to start serving burgers.”

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas are a longtime sponsor of the Arkansas Farm Family of the Year program, which has recognized achievements in agriculture since 1947. The competition begins with selection of top county farm families; eight District Farm Families of the Year are then selected, with the final state Farm Family of the Year announced at the Arkansas Farm Bureau Foundation luncheon each December.

As 2024 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year, the Allens will compete with nine other state winners in the Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year program in Moultrie, Georgia, in 2025.