Cowling Family named 2018 Little River County Farm Family of the Year

Updated: July 6, 2018

Cowling Family Farms is truly a family-run operation. Pictured are (from left): Jacob Cowling holding Clara Cowling, Katey Cowling, Briley Kate Currie, Peyton Segraves, Will Segraves, Brianna Segraves, Ramona Cowling, Richard Cowling, Kaden Segraves, Larry Cowling, Tisha Sharp, Walt Sharp, Lucas Sharp and family friend and employee Ladell Hinton.

By Quinton Bagley

Little River News

The year 1939 was a remarkable one in history, sports and entertainment.

Brothers Richard and Larry Cowling, owners of Cowling Family Farms in Foreman, were recently selected at the 2018 Little River County Farm Family of the Year.

The United States was recovering from the Great Depression. Germany invaded Poland starting World War II. Major League Baseball’s Lou Gehrig, the legendary New York Yankee first baseman known as “The Iron Horse,” ended his 2,130 consecutive games-played streak after contracting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and the first little league baseball game is played in Williamsport, Pa. Four classic movies – “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Gone with the Wind” and “Stagecoach” – all premier in 1939. In literature, John Steinback’s “The Grapes of Wrath” was published.

In Little River County, Otto Cowling bought the first 40 acres of what would grow over the next 79 years to become a major agricultural operation run by his sons, Richard and Larry Cowling, earning them the distinction of being named the 2018 Little River County Farm Family of the Year.

“In 1939, our dad, Otto, bought the first 40 acres,” Richard said. “We have continuously added since 1939, to what we have today. Our dad started with two-row equipment, moved up to four-row, then eight-row and we now run 16-row equipment.”

Over the years, the farm has grown from its original 40 acres. Today, the Cowling Farms has spread to 6,060 acres with 2,900 acres owned by the Cowlings and another 3,160 acres rented.

Soybeans are them main crop on Cowling Family Farms with 2,000 acres dedicated to it growth. Corn is next with 1,000 acres planted a year. Three hundred acres is used for hay meadow and another 50 acres is dedicated to pecans.

Richard and Larry Cowling look over the corn crop. Approximately 1,000 acres of Cowling Family Farm is dedicated to corn.

In addition to crops, Cowling Farms is home to 300 head of cattle including 100 head of registered cattle.

No matter the acreage or the number of head of cattle, one must pay close attention to the markets and taking advantage to get the highest price possible.

“We do our own marketing,” Larry said. “We pay a lot of attention to the futures market and responding accordingly.”

Crops and cattle are not the only enterprises the Cowling brothers devote their time to. They also operate Cowling Trucking, Inc.

“We own a trucking company,” Richard said. “We have a 10-truck fleet pulling flatbeds, hopper bottoms and a cattle trailer. We’ve owned trucks since 1979, and started Cowling Trucking, Inc., in 1998.”

Over 79 years lots of things have changed in agriculture and the Cowlings have not been afraid to change to improve the yield while also making work easier.

“We have leveled the land which has improved guidance for precision and more accuracy in spraying,” Larry said. “We use bigger equipment to cover more land in a shorter amount of time and we are building a

Larry and Richard Cowling walk among some of the 2,000 acres of soybeans on Cowling Family Farms as much-needed rain begins to fall.

holding reservoir for irrigation to better irrigate our row crops.”

Two major components to a successful farm are soil nutrients and erosion prevention.

“We practice no-till planting of row crops,” Richard said. “We incorporate chicken litter as fertilizer and we fertilize our crops according to soil samples.”

Like all farms and ranches, Cowling Family Farms is often at the mercy of Mother Nature, whether it is not enough rain, the right amount or too much.

“Two of the major issues for our farming operations have been flood and drought,” Larry said. “Our farm flooded in 1990 and most recently in 2015. In recent years we have started irrigating to help combat drought. We are now irrigating by poly-pipe and pivots and we now level land for our row crops.”

Cowling Family Farms is truly a family farm with several generations of Cowlings involved.

“We are all involved,” Richard said. “This is a family operation. Our children and their children are all involved in all aspects of our operations. We each have our own duties and responsibilities, but it all correlates to our operations with the farm and our trucking company.”

Starting to get soaked by a much-needed rain, Larry and Richard Cowling stand in front of the holding reservoir they are building to use for irrigation.

Walt Sharp, son of Larry and the late Carmen Cowling, is married to Tisha. They have two children – Carli and Lucas. Carli is currently enrolled in college in Denton, Texas and will graduate in December. Lucas graduated from Foreman High School in May and became a Gator Alumni.

Walt is employed with Ash Grove Cement and has worked there for 12 years. Tisha has been a physical therapist for the last 24 years. She donates her time as personal trainer and physical therapist for the Gator football and basketball team. She was standing on the sidelines with the Gators when they won their first state championship in December 2017.

Jacob Cowling, son of Richard and Ramona Cowling, is married to Katey. Jacob attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and majored in agricultural business. He had the honor of hauling Tusk, the Arkansas Razorback mascot, to and from the home football games in Fayetteville. Jacob pulled him in the parades and was able to pull him onto the field before the games started. Jacob will tell you, that it was the highlight of his college career. He is a national member of Alpha Gamma Rho.

Katey attended Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., and played softball for the NSU Demons. The couple has two daughters – Briley Kate and Clara Lynn. Briley Kate is in Prek at Foreman ABC preschool and Clara Lynn in the newest addition to the Cowling family and is loved by all. Clara attends Mary’s Little Lamb Daycare in Ashdown.

Jacob has been in the seed and chemical business for the last 10 years. Katey is employed with Cowling Title, owned by Richard and Larry’s brother Ken, in Ashdown as an abstractor. Jacob has served on the FSA board for nine years, was a member of the Farm Bureau Board, and is a member of the Arkansas Cattleman’s Association.

Brianna Segraves, daughter of Richard and Ramona Cowling, is married to Will. They have two sons – Peyton and Kaden. Peyton is starting his freshman year at Foreman High and Kaden is in the sixth grade. Brianna attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where she was a member of the Collegiate FFA program and donated her time to helping other FFA programs in the state. She majored in agricultural communications. She has managed and operated the business for Cowling Trucking for 12 years. Her husband, Will, is employed with Allied Reliability as a lead analyst and is stationed at Cooper Tire in Texarkana, in charge of their predictive maintenance program. Will is a member of the Foreman School Board and has been for the past four years, serving as secretary and currently vice president of the board. Brianna founded, and is active in, the Recreational Park Foundation in Foreman, intent on restoring and finishing the Recreational Park there. Both of their sons have been active in 4H and FFA and have showed animals the last two years. Will has served his children and his community well by being active in the baseball program at Foreman, coaching teams for two years.

Richard Cowling is married to Ramona. They’ve been married for 40 years and have lived on the farm since they married in 1977. They both graduated from Foreman High. Ramona graduated from Texarkana College with an RN degree, but has since retired. Richard has farmed all his life, starting back when he was a just a child. When he graduated high school, he went to work full time at Cowling Farms and has been on the farm ever since. He’s now 62. When farming got slow, Richard bought his first semi truck in 1979, after his daughter was born. He was leased to A&P Trucking in Ashdown for five years then left and leased on to Nashville Trucking until 1998, when he started his own company, Cowling Trucking, Inc. At one point, he was up to 16 trucks, but has sold down to just a fleet of 10. Richard stays busy with the farm nowadays, and Brianna runs the day to day business.

Larry is married to Carmen, who recently passed away, on the eve of their 40th wedding anniversary. Larry and Carmen were both active in their church, Larry serving as senior warden, and the community. Carmen worked at the courthouse and as a bank teller, until she went back to school full time to finish her teaching degree. Carmen loved living on the farm and helping Larry and Richard any way she could, normally chasing parts and chemicals. Larry and Carmen were both active in Farm Bureau, where Larry served as the president of the board. Larry was on the FSA Committee for nine years, serving as chairperson for six of those nine years. He is a member of the Little River County Cattleman’s Association and a current member of the National Resource Conservation Service. Larry served his community well by being the State Representative for District 2 and serving for three terms. While in office, he was able to make the pecan the state nut and worked on legislation to lower taxes on farm necessities. Larry is currently serving as Justice of the Peace and is a member of the Intermodal Economics Committee and on the advisory board for both Domtar and Ash Grove Cement Company.