Farming is not always an easy job. Some days the hours are extremely long, a piece of equipment breaks down, or Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. It’s a job that always brings something different and unexpected. However, these are all challenges that Trent Dabbs, a fourth-generation rice, corn, and soybean farmer in Stuttgart, AR, embraces. He finds his drive and passion for farming through the unknown.
“You don’t know what is going to happen from day to day,” said Trent. “I like the challenge of getting up and not knowing what’s going to happen that day. You drive around first thing in the morning and will find things that happened the night before that need attention. It’s frustrating in the moment, but when I sit down at night, I’m very happy with my career choice."
Rewind twenty years, though, and you would meet a Trent who was not planning to go back to the farm after college. While he loved growing up on the farm and having those unique experiences, Trent had other plans to become a mechanical engineer and design cars. He grew up watching racecars and going to the races with his dad, which is what sparked that dream. However, it was during his sophomore year of college that Trent started missing the farm.
“During my sophomore year of college at Mississippi State, I decided to major in agricultural engineering and business, which is what made me start missing the farm,” Trent said. “I interviewed with a few companies, but agriculture slowed down that year, which caused a few hiring freezes. I was lucky enough that my dad wanted me to come back and partner with him to keep the family operation going.”
Don’t worry, though. Trent’s degrees are far from being unused on the farm. When Trent graduated in 2001, GPS technology on the farm was really starting to take off. He was able to take classes that specifically covered GPS technology and helped him understand how it applied to farming. Today, everything they do on the farm has some kind of technology tied to it. From the tractors and planters to record keeping, there is not a place where technology is not involved.
“Even our grain bins have technology. Our grain bins have an automated system that monitors temperature, humidity, and moisture, and depending on those conditions when we put grain in the bins, that system will automatically stop and start the bin fans. All of that is linked to my cell phone and iPad and I can see exactly what’s going on.” Trent said.
Additionally, the business classes are helping him because the farm is run like a business. He is able to make informed decisions for the farm and keep it smoothly running.
“I think a lot of people don’t think about that kind of stuff. They think about the day-to-day operations, but the behind-the-scenes stuff is important too,” Trent said.
Keeping up with everything on the farm can be a challenge of farming in and of itself, but Trent still makes his family his number one priority. Being able to raise his two daughters on the same farm he was raised on and provide them with similar experiences is very important to him. Nearly every Sunday, Trent makes it a point to take his wife and the kids for a ride out on the farm to look at everything. He uses that opportunity to educate the kids about what crop is what and how it’s grown.
“You know, you can’t take your kids with you on a lot of jobs and let them ride around. That’s what I love about my job,” Trent said. “It’s important to me because it’s the way I grew up. I think it shows them about working hard, putting in a good day’s work, and what comes out of it at the end.”
This year, he even let his oldest, who is just five-years-old, help him drive the tractor.
“It’s kind of interesting when you tell somebody you let your five-year-old drive a $300,000 piece of equipment. They look at you funny,” Trent laughed.
Despite it not being his original plan and the many obstacles, farming is the lifestyle Trent clearly loves and wouldn’t trade for anything. Because of the path he took, he was able to learn skills that help him run his family’s farm effectively and efficiently, and he is able to include his family in it. Turnrows Apparel is thankful for Trent and the other farmers and ranchers across our great nation who face with the daily challenges of farming head on to ensure we have a safe and abundant supply of food and fiber.
Trent Dabbs (left) with his dad and business partner, Terry Dabbs