In 1944, World War II was dominating the news, Casablanca was winning the Academy Award for the best picture and a man named Perry Murphy of the southern U.S. state of Mississippi, was buying farmland that is still going strong today.
Thirty years after Perry Murphy bought that land and nearly 80 years after his Irish ancestors began farming in Mississippi, Perry’s grandson, Danny, decided to follow in their footsteps and has been farming on that same farmland Perry bought seven decades ago.
“I used to follow my grandpa around on the farm and help him in the fields,” Danny says. “It’s really all I ever wanted to do. It was just a natural fit for me and where I felt I belonged.”
Until 2006, cotton was the major crop on Murphy Farms, located in Canton, a town nestled in the middle of Mississippi. After that, Danny decided to make corn and soybeans the major crops on his farm since they were more profitable than cotton. Throughout the years, Danny has not only been open-minded about changing crops, but also about his evolving sustainability practices on the farm.
“Everyone thought tillage was the answer in the 1950s and ‘60s,” Danny says. “Starting in 2007, we used to use no-till for half of our farmland. Now we’re finding that no-till really works well. We are now 99 percent no-till and only till when we have ruts.”
These practices have led to very successful results for Danny. Last year, his nonirrigated yields for soybeans were 42 bushels per acre and 135 for corn. Danny is hopeful that his yields are just as strong this year.
“We were a little late getting planted this year because of a wet spring, but things are looking a lot better now,” Danny adds. “The corn and soybeans both look really good. The corn is almost ready for harvest, and the soybeans will be filled out in about a month. The crops are looking extremely good right now.”
Because of his success as a soybean and corn farmer, Murphy has been selected as the Mississippi winner of the 2014 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. Throughout the southeastern United States, he is one of 10 state winners and joins them as a finalist for the Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. The overall winner will be announced in October at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia.
“It’s an honor to receive this award,” Danny says. “When you look back at all of the great Mississippi farmers who have won the award, it’s very humbling to be included with them.”
When Danny is not in his fields, he gives back to the U.S. soybean industry by helping to lead several soy organizations. He served as president of the Mississippi Soybean Association and chairman of the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board. He has also been an American Soybean Association director since 2005, serving as president last year. And he served as a director of the U.S. Soybean Export Council from 2008 through 2012, including as its treasurer from 2009 to 2011. These roles have sent him all around the world advocating to international customers on behalf of U.S. soybean farmers.
“International customers are tremendously important to U.S. soybean farmers,” Danny says. “Over half of our crop ends up going to international markets. Soybean farmers are especially conscious of the quality and quantity of the product that international customers need. We want to be good partners with them and help provide them with food security.”