2011 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year
Heath & Betsy Long

2011 Farm Family of the Year

Longs named Arkansas Farm Family of the Year

Heath and Betsy Long of Tichnor, members of First Electric Cooperative, are the 2011 Arkansas Farm Family of the Year, announced today at a luncheon honoring the county and district Farm Families of the Year. 

They own Long Planting Company, a rice, soybean and wheat operation near the community of Tichnor, south of DeWitt. Their farm consists of 2,230 acres of rented land, with 1,137 acres dedicated to soybeans, 869 acres of rice, and 198 acres of wheat. Heath and Betsy have two daughters, nine-year-old Shelby and four-year-old Sydney. 

Heath is a fourth-generation farmer and was raised on the family farm. After graduating at Arkansas State University in 1994 with a degree in agriculture he returned home and became a partner with his parents and brother in Long Farms, Inc. He married Betsy in 1998 and a year later formed Heath Long Farms. They continued to expand the operation over the next 12 years. Following his mother’s death in 2009, Heath’s father retired and last year Heath and Betsy formed Long Planting Company.

The Longs have a positive relationship with their landowners and have worked closely with them in expanding and improving their operation. They have purchased larger equipment and taken advantage of new technologies in seed and crop protection products to improve the efficiency of the farm. To save on energy costs, the Longs have converted a number of their diesel powered irrigation units to electric.

Heath is vice president of the Arkansas County Farm Bureau board of directors and  volunteers with the Tichnor Volunteer Fire department. He is also a member of the Arkansas and USA Rice Councils. Betsy teaches at Gillett Elementary School and serves in a number of capacities at Gillett United Methodist Church.

As Arkansas’ Farm Family of the Year, the Longs will compete in the 2012 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year program. Involving the Farm Families of the Year across 10 southeastern states, the competition concludes with the winner being named in October in Moultrie, Ga.

The Farm Family of the Year program, now in its 66th year, begins with selection of the top farm family in each county. Then, eight district Farm Families of the Year are selected. The process concludes with the selection of the state Farm Family of the Year. The competition is judged on production, efficiency and management of farm operations, family life and rural/community leadership and values.

The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas,  Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Arkansas Press Association, AgHeritage FCS, Farm Credit of Western Arkansas, and Farm Credit MidSouth are sponsors of the annual recognition program. Additional program support is provided by the Arkansas Department of Career Education; the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service; and the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Rural Development.

Betsy’s Recipes

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2 cups crushed pretzels

1 cup sugar

1 ½ sticks margarine, melted

1 pkg. cream cheese, softened

2 cups cool whip

1 6 0z. pkg. strawberry gelatin

2 cups boiling water

2 10oz. pkgs. Frozen strawberries & juice

2 T. orange juice

Set out cream cheese and strawberries to soften. Melt margarine. Crush pretzels and add to melted margarine along with ¼ cup sugar. Spread pretzel mixture in greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add strawberries and set aside. Mix cream cheese, ¾ cup sugar, 2 T orange juice, and Cool Whip. Spread over pretzel crust. Pour gelatin mixture on top of cream cheese layer. Chill until set.

Spinach Salad

2 bags cleaned spinach

1 can water chestnuts, cut into pieces

1 can bean sprouts

Red onion rings

6 strips of bacon, cooked & crumbled

2 boiled eggs, chopped


½ cup sugar

1/3 cup ketchup

½ cup oil

2 T. Worcestershire

¼ cup vinegar

Pinch of basil and lemon pepper

Refrigerate dressing overnight. Mix salad with dressing by tossing lightly. Serve at once.


Caramel Turtle Cake

1 pound caramels


1 box German Chocolate cake mix

½ cup butter

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup evaporated milk

½ cup butter, melted

1/3 cup cocoa

11/2 cups water

16 oz. powdered sugar

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, divided

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Mix cake mix, oil, butter, water and half the sweetened milk until well blended. Pour half the batter into a greased 9 by 13 by 2 inch cake pan. Bake 20 to 30 minutes.

Unwrap caramels. In a double boiler melt caramels and remaining sweetened condensed milk. (Melting takes 20 minutes, so begin when cake is put into oven). Pour over warm cake layer. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Pour remaining batter on top and bake again for 30 to 40 minutes. To make frosting bring butter, evaporated milk and cocoa to a boil. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Spread warm frosting on warm cake.


Barbecued Rice (Gillett Coon Supper Recipe)

1 stick butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

1 can chicken broth

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

1 can cream of chicken soup

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 cups cooked rice

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Sauté onion and celery in butter until vegetables appear clear. Add soup, broth, garlic salt, seasonings, and add the liquid smoke. All is added to cooked rice, and placed in rectangular casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


Green Bean Bundles

2 cans whole green beans


¾ stick butter

½ cup brown sugar

Salt and pepper

Garlic powder

Cut bacon in half. Wrap around a bunch of green beans. Place green beans in a 9x13 pan. Put all other ingredients in a saucepan to melt and make a glaze. Pour glaze over green beans. Bake covered at 375 for 30 minutes. Uncover dish and cook for 15 more minutes. This browns the bacon.


Cashew Chicken (Heath’s mother’s recipe and Heath’s favorite)

½ lb. boneless chicken breast per person

2 eggs per pound of boneless chicken

¼ cup milk per egg





Cut chicken into small pieces, flour well, and let stand in flour for 15 minutes. Mix egg, milk, salt, and pepper. Remove chicken from the flour and let stand in egg mixture for 10 minutes. Roll in flour and deep fry in hot oil. Keep warm in covered pan in oven.


2 chicken bouillon cubes per cup of water

2 Tablespoons corn starch

1 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. oyster flavor sauce

Boil water and dissolve cubes. Remove ¼ cup broth and mix corn starch until smooth. Pour back into broth with other ingredients and let thicken. Pour sauce over chicken, top with cashews and chopped green onions. Serve with rice and soy sauce.