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Producing Excellence

Billy Joe Leach

Conehatta, MS

Double L Farms

Products Raised or Grown: Timber, poultry and cattle

Size of Operation: 1,300 acres, 10 broiler houses, 75 head

In Business Since: 1993

Farm Credit Partner: Southern AgCredit

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2001

For farmers and ranchers across the country, raising healthy crops and livestock is imperative; in addition, though, the business impact of farming and production choices are key considerations. For Billy Joe Leach, this has meant both expansion and diversification of his enterprise, and continuing to be flexible in order to ensure optimum profitability.

Billy Joe grew up in farming and started his own operation with a single broiler house. A contract with Peco Foods, a large poultry processor, ensured a stable market and consistent profitability, enabling him to expand to his current 10 broiler houses that produce nearly 1 million birds a year. This foundation will position him to expand even further, a goal he expects to pursue in the future.

His success in poultry has also enabled him to diversify into timber, a longtime interest of his supported by a degree in forestry. With financing from Southern AgCredit, he has purchased 1,000 acres of timberland, selling to various saw mills depending on which are offering the strongest bid for his harvest. He markets his timber himself rather than using a broker, which increases his profits and positions him to expand his timber holdings, an appealing opportunity since it is less labor intensive than other aspects of his business.

Rounding out his operation is a 75-head stocker herd, the management of which is also business driven: Billie Joe will sometimes sell his cattle in load lots directly to buyers, cutting out the middle man as with his timber operation; other years, he’ll send his stockers to a feedlot while retaining ownership, anticipating better profits down the road.

“I’ve been lucky in a few areas of life,” Billy Joe say. “But I’m conservative fiscally, and have taken risks at the right time.”

This business acumen and dedication to hard work is being passed down to his children, ages 10, 12 and 15, each of whom works on the farm before going to school. “My son has been filing a tax return since he was five years old,” Billy Joe says with pride. “None of the kids even know how to play a Game Boy.”

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