What is in this article?:
• Mike Harris got into farming in a round about way. He went with some friends to get a farm loan from their local FSA office. When he saw how easily they got loans, he applied, was accepted, but that’s where the fairy tale story ends.
• From his meager beginning and despite what most people would call a handicap, Mike Harris built a thriving farming enterprise. Now, he farms several thousand acres, owns part interest in a highly successful cotton gin, and has other successful businesses. But, it didn’t come easy.
The cotton business was all good until a big hurricane hit in 2000. Harris lost 2,000 acres of cotton and had to leverage everything he owned to start over again. “At one point I just sat here (in his office chair) laughing. Then, I went home and cried for a whole day.
Finally, I said to myself, this isn’t Mike Harris, I’m no quitter, so I put it all back together again,” he says with pride. He could easily add that he put it back together bigger and better. That’s not his style — there is a humble, caring side of Mike Harris that’s evident even from the briefest of meetings.
Now, 10 years after his near financial disaster, the farming operation is bigger and better than ever. His daughters Beth Foster and Amy Feyer are both heavily involved in the operation. And, he now has a farming partner, Casey Sawyer.
“I knew Casey was too smart and worked too hard to stay here working for wages, so I’m helping him get started in farming. He and my daughters are trying hard to begin to start taking over some of the farming operation, but it’s hard, real hard to understand how an operation this big works,” Harris says.
Big may be an understatement. Last year Harris farmed over 9,000 acres of land, including 3,500 acres of cotton. He’s planning to increase to 4,500 acres of cotton next year. Plus, he still has involvement in cotton gins and other business operations.
Tough may also be an understatement in explaining the successes Mike Harris has had in agriculture and in life. His reputation as being the toughest of the tough is not always something he’s proud of later in life, but in many ways tough is what has helped him through some very hard times in life and in farming.