Justin Bass and family

Pictured, from left, are Michael, Kathryn, Juston, Hanna, Morgan and Mason Bass.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, the average age of farmers and ranchers in the United States in 58. This is not because farming is one of America’s oldest trades, but rather that there are fewer individuals choosing farming as an occupation than before. This award seeks to highlight an individual who has exhibited tremendous work ethic and holds a good community reputation.

As a first generation farmer, Juston Bass is a hard-working farmer and rancher just doing what he knows and loves. Growing up in deep East Texas, a graduate of Woden High School, Juston has been in and around the business for more than 20 years.

Juston’s dedication to doing what he loves has earned him the 2019 Young Farmer of the Year award, sponsored by Austin Bank, which will be presented April 15 at the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce’s Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet.

No easy job

Farming and ranching since he was 18, Juston worked on a poultry farm owned by Lamar Horn during high school to help pay for his FFA stock projects. Mr. Horn instilled valuable life lessons and served as a second father to him. Now retired from farming, he influenced Juston’s decision to begin farming on his own and serves as a mentor.

Juston worked in his father’s business – moving mobile homes – prior to purchasing his farm ten years ago.

The farm is located in Martinsville, and is a one man operation. There are no hired hands, but Juston says “it takes a family to make it work.” He and his wife, Kathryn, have four children — Michael, Morgan, Mason and Hanna — who each play a role in the success of the farm. “It is definitely a family effort,” shares Juston, “and it’s hard work. There’s nothing easy about it.”

The farm includes seven broiler houses and a cow-calf operation. Raising poultry for Tyson is an integral part of his business, but Juston admits that the cow-calf operation side is the more enjoyable of the two. His 100 head of gray Brahman cows require a great deal of work, but with that comes great satisfaction.

Over the last ten years, Juston’s biggest lesson learned is that you have to be smart in managing your money. There are a lot of factors that you just cannot control – partner contracts, the weather, and hay production to name a few. But if you manage your money wisely, always prepared for the worst, you can make a living doing the things you enjoy most.

About the banquet

The Young Farmer of the Year award is sponsored by Austin Bank and Pilgrim’s Corporation. The 18th Annual Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet presented by TFP Nutrition begins at 5:30 p.m. April 15 at the Nacogdoches County Exposition and Civic Center. The event is organized by the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce’s Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Committee. For information about tickets or exhibit space, contact the chamber at 936-560-5533.

Maebeth Cotton is the marketing and financial literacy officer at Austin Bank in Whitehouse.

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