“If you are not at the table, you are on the menu,” Barry Evans expressed with a humble grin. His eyes beamed with joy as he reflected on his farming journey on the High Plains of Texas.
The fourth-generation farmer from Kress, Texas, has committed decades to the cotton and sorghum industries. Throughout his farming career, Evans constantly worked on his craft of improving his farming practices. “It is important to tell our story,” Evans said. “Every farmer I know cares about the soil, sustainability, and more. There is a story about being the stewards of the land.”
Evans graduated from then called West Texas State University in 1984 with a passion for commodity marketing. He then was a commodity broker in Canyon, Texas, for eight years, but Evans knew he would end up back on the farm.
“The farm down the road from where I grew up was for sale,” Evans said. “So, I moved back in 1992 and currently farm about 4,500 acres, a half-mile from the farm where my dad lives and ran his operation.”
Planted in his family roots, Evans has continued his passion for farming in aiming toward sustainability efforts. With a different approach to how he runs his farming operation, Evans uses his interest in marketing when it comes to risk management.
“The truth is that we never know what the market is going to do,” Evans said. “Once I finally admitted that to myself and needed to make business decisions, it was a game-changer.”
Evans said we have many tools such as farm programs and crop insurance that work together in the market. When it comes to futures and options, Evans bases his decisions off his history and experience as a commodity broker.
“I am eager to use more options than futures because it is not about being right, which I seldom am,” Evans said as he shook his head with a gentle laugh.
Another unique aspect about Evans’ operation is his early adoption of no-till farming in 1995. Evans says he still uses this practice on all his crops to keep soil health at the forefront of his operation. By combining his knowledge of the industry from his family farming roots and his passion for learning, Evans continues to look for ways to expand his knowledge about agriculture.
Learn by Doing
Evans’ passion for telling his story and lasting curiosity to learn more about his industry let to his involvement within regional-, state-, and national-level commodity and agricultural organizations.
“I have served on the Plains Cotton Growers Inc., Texas Grain Sorghum, National Cotton Council, Southwest Council of Agribusiness, and our county Farm Bureau board of directors,” Evans said. “I think it is important to be involved to be able to tell our story to those outside of agriculture and to let them know what we do.”
Evans served as the board president for PCG from 2008 to 2009. During his tenure, Evans played an important role in navigating the 2008 Farm Bill. He assisted Steve Verett, former PCG CEO, extensively for many years by formulating key messages that were important to the cotton industry.
“He served as our president during a crucial time for our industry,” Verett said. “It was a time where we needed a leader with a steady hand combined with history to convey the need of why we do what we do. Not only to farmers, but to all aspects of our economy.”
To others, he was serving in the role he was appointed to. However, to Evans, he was advocating for the farmer’s way of life while learning more about policy.
“Again, so many people outside of agriculture don’t know what we do,” Evans said. “I am a believer that you need to be involved to have the chance to tell everyone our story.”
Leaving a Legacy
Meanwhile, back on the farm in Kress, Texas, Evans is known for his unique perspective on trying new farming practices. Kody Bessent, current PCG CEO, says Evans’ humble demeanor and positive outlook on life can contribute to his success.
“Through working with Barry on the executive board, I have had the opportunity to see how he goes about life and running his farming operation, which is pretty unique,” Bessent said. “He is very wise in his decision-making and opportunistic when looking at different agronomic practices.”
Last year, Evans received the Field to Market’s 2021 Farmer of the Year award for his advancements in sustainability. His commitment to conserving the region’s water supply through the Ogallala Aquifer while restoring soil health contributed to receiving this honor.
“It is really humbling because I don’t feel like I’m that good at marketing,” Evans laughed. “However, it was really neat for someone from West Texas to receive this award.”
In addition to this award, he also received an honor from Davis College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. In 2010, Evans received the Gerald W. Thomas Outstanding Award for Agriculturalist Production. Evans is a long-time friend of the Davis College through his support and research efforts.
Although Evans has left his mark on the agricultural industry through his advancements in farming practices, he has forever left an impact on the hearts of those he has met along the way. Verett said Evans is not only a pioneer in agriculture, but a true example to others.
“When I think of Barry Evans, I think of three words: gentleman, teacher, and learner,” Verett said. “He always wants to make sure other people feel valued and are treated with respect and that is the best testimony you could have for someone.”