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Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
Elizabeth Burns Anderson A fifth-generation banker and native of Magnolia, Elizabeth Burns Anderson is Senior Vice President of Farmers Bank and Trust and Executive Director of the Farmers Bank Foundation. She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas with a degree in Finance. In 2020, Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed Elizabeth the consumer representative of the Arkansas State Medical Board.
Jamie Anderson Founded in 1949, by his great grandfather, Jamie Anderson becomes the 4th generation to run their fish farm made of 3,300 acres of water with an 11,000 square foot fish hatchery. Thus, making them the largest producer of bait fish in the World.
Transcript Begins:EPISODE 218
00:00:09] GM: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show and podcast, offers listeners an insider’s view into the commonalities of successful people and the ups and down or risk-taking. Connect with Kerry through her candid, funny, informative and always encouraging weekly blog. And now it's time for Carrie McCoy to get all up in your business.
00:00:33] KM: My guest today are Mr. And Mrs. James Neal Anderson Jr., aka Jamie and Elizabeth, a power couple with deep roots in Arkansas. There are not many businesses that last pass the second generation and certainly not the third. But Anderson Farms, a fish farm, and Farmers Bank and Trust in Magnolia are the exception. Founded in 1949 by his great grandfather, Jamie Anderson becomes the fourth generation to run their fish farm made of 3,300 acres of water with 11,000 square foot fish hatchery, thus making them the largest producer of baitfish in the world. Do you hear that? The world.
Elizabeth Burns Anderson is the fifth generation to run her family business. Farmers Bank and Trust founded over 100 years ago by her great, great grandfather. Did I mention, in 2019, this power couple, parents and children are all voted farm family of the year. This speaks to their responsible dedication to their agriculture and their business practices, and to the devotion and time spent in their community and with their children. It is my pleasure to welcome to the table the unique couple whose talents and careers complement each other, fish farmer, Jamie Anderson and his wife, the Senior Vice President of Farmers Bank and Trust, and Executive Director of the Farmers Bank Foundation, Elizabeth Burns Anderson. Wow! What do y'all talk about at dinner.
00:02:07] EA: Fish homework.
00:02:08] JA: Homework.
00:02:09] KM: Home work. That's probably very true. Well, you two go together like two peas in a pod. Y'all are like made in heaven. Jamie, you're a fourth-generation fish farmer. You're on the job, in the field, I guess. He's shaking his head. It's radio, Jamie. You can't shake your head. Yes.
00:02:27] JA: Yes.
00:02:27] KM: And Elizabeth is a fifth-generation banker and the VP of Farmers Bank and Trust. This is like a business relationship made in heaven. Tell me how the two of you met.
00:02:38] EA: Well, we actually – our families go back generations, our grandfathers campaign for Governor Faubus years ago together. In a roundabout way, our grandfathers knew each other on the campaign trail. But Jamie and I met at the University of Arkansas. We were both attending college at the same time and had lots of unique friends and just kind of came together years later.
00:03:04] KM: Years later? Not in college?
00:03:05] JA: Not in college.
00:03:06] EA: Not in college. We met later on just through – his sister and I were sorority sisters and we had lots of mutual friends.
00:03:12] KM: So you both graduated from the University of Arkansas.
00:03:14] EA: Yes.
00:03:15] KM: Neither one of y'all got married to anybody that you met there?
00:03:18] JA: No.
00:03:19] KM: And then you both met each other again and got married?
00:03:21] JA: Yes.
00:03:22] EA: Right. Correct.
00:03:23] GM: Mom's have a theme of the last few shows where she keeps saying you just go to college to find that, get your MRS degree or whatever.
00:03:30] KM: What's MRS? Oh, Mrs.
00:03:31] GM: Yeah. Go to college get married.
00:03:32] JA: I've told the wife that she would not have liked me in college. We would not have made a good couple.
00:03:36] KM: Did you pledge something?
00:03:36] JA: I did.
00:03:38] KM: Like Kappa Sig or something terrible.
00:03:39] JA: I pledged
00:03:40] KM: Oh, that's just as bad.
00:03:41] JA: By the time we started dating, I think I'd grown up enough.
00:03:44] KM: You've already been to AA? That's good, yeah. You
00:03:49] EA: I think the people you meet in college, some people build relationships that they married people in college, but I needed some years to grow up and mature. We were totally different people at 25 than we were at 30, and we both married when we were in our 30s and had children.
00:04:08] KM: Thirty? That's late. But not today. It's really not.
00:04:11] JA: Not today.
00:04:12] KM: In my days, it was pretty late. But no, you're right, it's not.
00:04:17] JA: We dated for three years, so we both kind of set in our careers, and set where we want to live and so, I think that helped a lot.
00:04:26] KM: You both majored in careers, in subjects that went with your family career. You went into Agra.
00:04:32] JA: Ad business for a degree.
00:04:34] KM: You majored in that and you majored in –
00:04:36] EA: Finance.
00:04:38] KM: Did you know you're going to go in the family business?
00:04:39] EA: No. Actually, I wanted to be a school teacher. But I got a degree in finance, and then I was going to get a master's degree in education. But then I was done with school, and I wanted to live in Little Rock and work. I've worked at other banks before I came back to the family bank. I've worked at several different banks around the state, but I was always home with Farmers Bank.
00:05:04] KM: When did you have that revelation like, "Okay. I might as well go back to the Family Bank"?
00:05:11] EA: After I had children.
00:05:13] KM: Oh, late.
00:05:14] EA: Mm-hmm. I have worked on and off for the Family Bank, most of my wife. I mean, my very first job was shredding paper in a closet at the bank. I've been a teller, I've ran the proof machine, which we don't even have anymore.
00:05:29] KM: What's a proof machine?
00:05:30] EA: That's where they used to put the image on the check when they etch the bottom of the check, they would drop it. I mean, they don't even do that anymore. Now they just take a picture of the cheque, and that's how they image it. But I've done everything at the bank through the years, and worked at other banks in Little Rock and outside of Little Rock in Northwest Arkansas. But once I had kids, and I knew it was time to be a part of the family bank again.
00:05:59] KM: Jamie, do you go straight out of college into?
00:06:02] JA: I did I started working on the farm when I was 12, "because that's what my dad did." For good reason, I learned it later in life exactly why I started early. You don't learn it overnight. But no, later in high school, of course, my dad asked, "Hey! What are you thinking?" Because he needed to make a plan. Then freshman year of college, same thing. Then that junior year, he's like, "Okay. I need to know for sure." His dad was still in the business, but getting older. He was in his 80s, so there were some turning points with technology and all in our industry. He wanted to make those leaps, but he just needed somebody to put in charge of it and somebody that he knew was going to do it the way he would. So he said, "My junior year, he said, "Are you coming back?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Okay. Well, our first order of business, we’re going to start building a hatchery. Figure out how to make that work, and then some other things."
So as soon as I graduated a little bit early from college. In December, I came back and immediately started building a hatchery and that was my first job.
00:07:13] KM: So the hatchery is new, sort of?
00:07:15] JA: We built it in '99. I'd like to think that was new, but that was sort of 20 years ago.
00:07:21] KM: Really? Seems like just the other day.
00:07:24] JA: It does. So yes, I always knew I was coming back. I really didn't want to do anything else. That's all I'd ever done and I loved it. Then once you're ingrained in it, it's hard to let it go.
00:07:35] KM: Does it stink?
00:07:35] JA: I always smelled like fish, absolutely.
00:07:38] KM: Does she makes you put your clothes outside the garage before you come in?
00:07:41] JA: Yes.
00:07:41] EA: Sometimes.
00:07:43] JA: Along with the kids. The kids come in dirty and nasty everyday too.
00:07:46] KM: Did the neighbors hate you out there?
00:07:47] JA: Well, we actually just got new neighbors. Before that, we're all by ourselves out in the middle of pasture. But my parents and my sister have recently built next to us.
00:07:55] KM: Well, they're used to it.
00:07:57] JA: Oh, yeah.
00:07:57] KM: When they smell it, they smell – that's the smell of money to them.
00:08:02] JA: So yes, our neighbors, they do not hate us for, they're used to it.
00:08:07] KM: They probably all work for you.
00:08:09] JA: Well, my dad does. My sister is actually a lawyer here in Little Rock, so she's not in the family business.
00:08:16] KM: s not in the paint even neighbors that are maybe down when probably I'll work for you.
00:08:19] JA: Oh, yes. Our closest neighbors are workforce.
00:08:21] KM: Fish or finance. That's a kind of good slogan for them.
00:08:24] GM: When you make bumper stickers.
00:08:26] KM: Fish and finance.
00:08:27] GM: Fish and finance.
00:08:28] KM: Fish and finance.
00:08:29] EA: It's like his smell of fish is the smell of money. My smell of money is the smell of money.
00:08:38] KM: Exactly. All right. This is a great place to take a break. When we come back, we're going to dig into Elizabeth's family folklore, and we're going to dig in to Jamie's family folklore. Elizabeth Burns Anderson, a fifth-generation banker, and Jamie Anderson, from Anderson Farms, the largest baitfish farm in the world. We'll be right back.
00:09:00] GM: You are listening to Up in your Business with me, Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed, along with Kerry’s experience and leadership knowledge. In 1995. She embraced the Internet and rebranded her company as simply, flagandbanner.com. In 2004, she became an early blogger. Since then, she
has founded the non-profit Friends of Dreamland Ballroom; began publishing her magazine, Brave. In 2016, branched out into this very radio show, YouTube channel and podcast.
In 2020, Kerry McCoy Enterprises acquired ourcornermarket.com, an online company specializing in American made plaques, signage, and memorials for over 20 years. And more recently, opened a satellite office in Miami, Florida. Telling American made stories, selling American made flags, the flagandbanner.com. Back to you, Kerry.
00:10:04] KM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with a dynamic farm couple, Jamie and Elizabeth Anderson. Jamie, a fourth-generation owner of Anderson's farm, a fish farm in Lonoke, Arkansas, and his wife, Elizabeth, a fifth-generation banker and VP of Farmers Bank and Trust. Okay, Elizabeth Burns Anderson, fifth-generation banker, native Magnolia. talk about growing up in the Family Bank.
00:10:31] EA: Well, the Family Bank is 115 years old. It was founded by both of my great, great grandfathers. When I was young, my great grandfather was president of the bank. Then my dad was CEO for 40 plus years, and he just retired. My brother-in-law is now the CEO, who's married to my sister. He does a fabulous job of taking on the family tradition. We're very proud of our bank, celebrating 115 years of service to the communities that we serve. We were founded to help the farmers in Columbia County and the entrepreneurs to start businesses. We try to encompass that into our business today.
We founded the Farmers Bank Foundation this past year on our 115th anniversary celebration. The purpose of the Farmers Bank Foundation is to enrich the communities where we serve. We have branches as far north as Parris, Arkansas, and they go all the way to Prosper, Texas, which is north of Dallas. We have a little over 30 branches. We are a $2.4 billion dollar bank. We're always in the top six to seven banks in the state, Arkansas banks that are in the state. We're very proud of that. By creating a foundation, which I spearheaded, we are allowed to encompass our corporate giving and make a bigger impact in the communities we serve. Farmers bank is based on community giving, and we like to support not only our customers, but our employees. Because when you have 115 years of service, successful service to your communities, you have to owe that to your employees.
By enriching the communities, by offering support to nonprofits and support to education, health care workers and things like that within our communities, supporting the first responders, we are allowed to engage in those communities and, and, and create a legacy for our bank and enrich those communities where our customers and our employees live.
00:12:45] KM: Banks are so important to a community. What do you think is the solution for underdeveloped and poverty neighborhoods? Because banks are also in the business of making money. I mean, like everybody is, they can't survive if they don't. I learned in the last election. Who's the mayor in New York City?
00:13:05] GM: Bloomberg.
00:13:06] KM: Bloomberg talking about how one of the reasons, one of the ways we could build up neighborhoods, poverty neighborhoods and underdeveloped neighborhoods is by putting a bank there. But no bank wants to go into a neighborhood that doesn't have any money or that has high crime. They don't want to put their employees at risks. I mean, how do you solve that? Do you talk about that at your bank?
00:13:28] EA: We do. All banks are required to do what they call the Community Reinvestment Act, CRA lending, or CRA giving back. We go into low poverty schools where they have free and reduced lunches and talk about opening the importance of having savings, and the importance of how to manage your funds and things like that. Speaking to children at a young age, and also just reaching out in those underdeveloped areas in each community, by offering volunteer or teaching community classes on retirement, or savings or things like that is a great way for us to get back to those areas.
00:14:04] KM: But you don't get to know your bankers. I mean, one of the reasons I'm successful is I got to know my banker.
00:14:08] EA: Right? Exactly. I mean, I don't even know – Kirk Dixon, I still remember his name. He took a chance on me, gave me a signature loan back when you could get signature loans and started me on my career path. I'm not sure that I as a banker would go to a community that's suffering and a girl came and said, "I wanted to open a hair salon or a bakery.
Will you give me $20,000 on a signature loan?" I'm not sure that happens today, or could even happen today, or should, really. I don't know how to change that.
00:14:41] EA: Right. It does happen. You just have to build those relationships, and understand their planning and their giving. We hope to build those relationships and all the communities that we serve. Farmers bank, that's been our name for 115 years and it was founded because my great grandfathers got together, they wanted to help the farmers. In many meetings over the past 115 years, it's been discussed, "Should we change it? Should we make it more marketable?" But you know what? No, because that's where we are. We were founded for farmers and we still support farmers today. We also support the core of every community and every community was initially founded by farmers. It's important to maintain who you are and where you come from.
00:15:27] KM: That's interesting. Every community was founded by farmers. That's really true, our history.
00:15:31] EA: Absolutely.
00:15:33] KM: Is that what the heart seems to be in all your advertising and your logo, is that what that means?
00:15:37] EA: Yes. Our heart stands for, and you'll probably catch me because it is honor excellence, adaptability, respect and teamwork.
00:15:46] KM: Oh, a lot of thought went into it.
00:15:48] GM: Good job, yeah. I followed along.
00:15:50] EA: Yeah. So it is, and we display that heart with just not only our customers, but our employees. We do a lot of team building, we do a lot of fun activities within our branches, competitive activities. We had a Super Bowl Fun Friday a few weeks ago.
00:16:04] KM: Are y'all betting?
00:16:05] EA: No, no, no. It's not a bet.
00:16:09] GM: We are at the Flag and Banner building.
00:16:11] EA: Right. It is. It's just more of a competitive way to have a good time. The branches compete and post it for all the other branches to see. It's a fun place to work. I've worked, like I said earlier, I worked at many other banks. I always found my way back home, because it is one of the best places to work.
00:16:29] KM: What's the Blue Heart Fund?
00:16:31] EA: The Blue Heart Fund is for our employees. The Blue Heart Fund is a public fund that is run by the Farmers Bank Foundation. That's a way for our employees to give to each other. So if we have an employee that is diagnosed with cancer, or has a house fire, we can do fundraisers and support each other through the Blue Heart Fund.
00:16:49] KM: Right? Banking has changed so much. How do you see banking in the future?
00:16:53] EA: Well, I see a lot of banks going more digital, and working at teaching technology. I myself, I mean, I work in a branch. But if I need to make a deposit, I just take a picture of it and submit it on the app. But I think to be successful, you're still going to have to build those relationships, and you're still going to have to work really hard at making people know their banker, and know that they're there to support that community.
00:17:19] KM: You know, branch banks are closing everywhere.
00:17:22] EA: Absolutely.
00:17:22] KM: I even got an email the other day that says our branch bank will be closed because we don't have enough employees right now.
00:17:28] EA: Right. A lot of larger banks are going to that. They want you to use their app, they don't want you to come in, they don't – they want you to call and wait on their call center
and they want you to send your questions by email. But we really want to still engage with our customers, and create a bond and create relationships with them.
00:17:46] KM: It's important. It's really important.
00:17:48] EA: Absolutely.
00:17:49] KM: This is great place to take a break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation, 2019 Farm Family of the Year, Jamie Anderson of Anderson's Fish Farm and his wife, Elizabeth Burns Anderson, a legacy banker at Farmers Bank and Trust in Magnolia. More fish and farm talk after the break.
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00:18:47] GM: All UIYB past and present interviews are available at Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy's YouTube channel, Facebook page, the Arkansas Democrat because that's digital version, flagandbanner.com's website or wherever you listen to podcasts.
00:19:02] KM: You're listening to up in your business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with Andersons, a farm family with deep roots in Arkansas. Jamie, a fourth-generation owner of Anderson's Farm, a fish farm in Lonoke, Arkansas, and his wife Elizabeth, a fifth-generation banker and VP of Farmers Bank and Trust founded in Magnolia, Arkansas,, and now, the branch banks in Texas and Oklahoma. Let's talk about your family.
00:19:29] JA: All right.
00:19:29] KM: How did your grandfather come to own the land near Lonoke and how did he decide on fish bait as his product to farm?
00:19:37] JA: Well, after he got out of the military, he was a trained bomber pilots at the Bible Air Force Base during the war. He and his brothers, they were in Yazoo City Mississippi, and they were running bait routes, with wild caught bait which was, before, we domestically raised bait. That's how it was all called. They run in routes all the way over to Lonoke, Arkansas. They're hauling fish from Mississippi in trucks all the way as far as Lonoke, Arkansas. He got to know the gentleman that owned the property across the road from our current headquarters. Well, that gentleman was catching wild bait out of Biomeda, which is a drainage canal that goes through our property. They were just really tough and hardy, and so my granddad didn't quite understand what it was making these fish better than the ones he was bringing from Mississippi.
He didn't know if it's soil, water, really what it was. But anyway, he went across the road, and there was an 80-acre rice farm there. A lady and a gentleman that owned did, and 800 acres behind it, it was all timber. He just offered money and bought it, so he started building fish ponds, and catching fish wild, and stocking in those in those ponds, and then breeding those and so on down the line. Then just, it kind of took off. As it grew and grew, he bought more land, build more ponds, set up distributions all over the country. At that time, and even now, you still kind of have to invent the equipment you use. The aquaculture industry across the country is very diverse. We're talking everything from salmon, and trout, and lobster, all the way to oysters, and minnows and goldfish. The equipment you use, you have to physically build it.
Back in the late 40s, early 50s, he's designing trucks, and boxes and air systems and containment systems for sheds, how to deliver oxygen deficient sheds. There was a whole lot more to it than just putting fish in a pond, or putting fish in a truck and going to sell them. But he kind of helped neighbors get in the business, because if they had land, he would build ponds on their land, stock it with fish and bow and back. That's kind of how Lonoke County became the the freshwater fin fish capital of the nation. Mono County is number one in baitfish, number one in Goldfish. We're number in largemouth bass production, hybrid striped bass production. That's
kind of how it all started. We had Joe Hogan State Fish Hatchery, was right there in Lonoke and it was built in the 40s also. It just kind of became the center for freshwater aquaculture.
00:22:24] KM: How many businesses are down there in Lonokee that are in aquaculture?
00:22:28] JA: Currently, I'm going to say, Lonoke County probably has a dozen. They range anywhere from baitfish to goldfish to game fish.
00:22:39] KM: Tilapia? Is it raised there?
00:22:41] JA: No. We don't raise any tilapia in Arkansas. Temperate wise, tilapia don't do very well in Arkansas. Our winters our too cold.
00:22:47] KM: Do you eat tilapia?
00:22:47] JA: I have.
00:22:48] KM: What's your favorite fish to eat?
00:22:50] JA: Oh gosh. Certainly crappie, catfish is a close second. But then I differentiate between freshwater and saltwater. I love saltwater fish also but, but crappie and catfish for sure.
00:23:00] KM: What's the difference between wild salmon and farmed salmon? Because farmed salmon got some bad rep.
00:23:06] JA: Well, the people who want to shut it down deliver the bad rep, media wise. But farm raised salmon is just as safe, 100% as a wild caught.
00:23:16] KM: There's something about the omegas though. The good omega that's in the wild caught is not in the –
00:23:22] JA: Well, it depends on who you ask. A lot of the farm-raised salmon is raised in net pins in bays and estuaries. Environmentalists want to shut that down. so the only way to do that is to kill the market for it.
00:23:35] KM: Why? Why do they want to shut that down?
00:23:36] JA: They don't like it?
00:23:37] KM: Why?
00:23:38] JA: A very small percentage of the farm-raised salmon comes from the United States. But the thing is, regulation wise, it's easier to raise it off the coast in bays and estuaries in another country than it is the United States, because you don't have rules and regulations fighting against you constantly.
00:23:55] KM: So it seems like people would like farm-raised?
00:23:59] JA: Well, I want to know what I'm eating. I want to know that it's safe. If it's grown here, it's much safer than coming from a foreign country, Vietnam, or Chile or a lot of the countries that raise our seafood.
00:24:12] KM: Let's go back to your great, great grandpa or your great grandfather who bought the land across the street from Biomeda. Did his friend now get mad at him from going into competition?
00:24:21] JA: Oh, no. They actually weren't really competition at the time. One was raising goldfish and one was raising golden shatters. Really, it wasn't a competition issue and the market was growing fast enough that – nope, we couldn't grow enough anyway.
00:24:37] KM: And you know, Lonoke is a perfect example of how like businesses that group together do better. It's like restaurant row does better, fits together. It's like retail stores do better if they're together.
00:24:47] JA: Well, it is a small industry. We depend on each other's cooperation.
00:24:51] KM: You probably call your neighbor and say, "Hey! I'm out of feed. Can I borrow some of yours?"
00:24:54] JA: Sure. I mean, we do that all the time. We're a small industry. We all know each other, a lot of us family, so we really depend on each other. A lot of the state and national issues, we deal with, we have to band together and deal with.
00:25:06] KM: Oh, I bet.
00:25:08] JA: Because it's all about numbers when it gets to the federal level.
00:25:10] KM: I'm imagining, your grandfather buys this land, which sounds so exciting and then he cuts down the timber, because you said it was timber, and he sells that timber. Where he cut it down, he digs a hole and then he starts fishing in his boat every day, and throwing fish in that water hole.
00:25:27] JA: Well, in plant land, you don't build a hole, you build levees to contain the water.
00:25:29] KM: Oh, yeah. Sure. You'll just start with a low spot.
00:25:33] JA: Right. We're on the edge of the delta, so it's flat, but that works well for us. But yeah, so he starts building ponds. Over time, the ponds have gone from large 80-acre ponds down to anywhere from a half-acre to 10 acres, just because they're easier to manage. Today, we've got 334 ponds over 3300 acres.
00:25:52] KM: You got mosquitoes.
00:25:53] JA: Lots of mosquitoes.
00:25:56] KM: Do you ever go there, Elizabeth?
00:25:57] EA: I do often.
00:25:59] JA: We live on the farm, so –
00:26:00] KM: You live on the farm?
00:26:01] EA: We do. We do, but mosquitoes are part of the life, and you learn to deal with them, when we spray for them, we wore bug spray.
00:26:10] GM: It's Arkansas, they're everywhere.
00:26:10] JA: It's Arkansas.
00:26:11] KM: No, no, it's not. Those mosquitoes are not just Arkansas mosquitoes.
00:26:16] GM: She begs to defend.
00:26:17] KM: You don't go out at night.
00:26:19] EA: I do, because I sit at the ballpark with my kids and my kids, we just – I mean, if you see us –
00:26:26] JA: You get used to them.
00:26:26] EA: You do. I mean, if we’re out at night in July, or June, or even August, we're pants and long sleeves, because you know you're going to get eaten otherwise.
00:26:36] KM: And they love the light. I mean, if you get in your car, you open the car door and get in, you might as well forget it. There's more. There's more mosquitoes in the car than humans.
00:26:46] GM: May I ask a farming question.
00:26:47] JA: Absolutely.
00:26:48] GM: So your grandfather, this – the word that you're using, a biomeda?
00:26:55] JA: Yes. Biomeda is one of the drainage systems here in Arkansas.
00:26:59] GM: Okay. He was getting fish out of a drainage system.
00:27:02] JA: Correct.
00:27:03] GM: He just fish some wild fish out of a drainage system and put them in a pond and started selecting?
00:27:08] JA: Right, storage ponds.
00:27:09] GM: That is crazy. Just out of a stream and then he just started.
00:27:13] JA: Yeah, just like that salmon farm. The salmon came from the wild.
00:27:16] EA: Now they ship them in the FedEx box overnight.
00:27:19] GM: Yeah, right. Well, that's just nuts to me.
00:27:24] JA: But yeah, I mean, every animal came from the wild.
00:27:25] GM: Well, sure. Yeah. But I just think even –
00:27:28] JA: Theoretically, our broodstock still has the same genetics as 73 years ago.
00:27:32] GM: Whatever he fish out of that drain. Oh, that's so cool, though.
00:27:36] KM: But I mean, don't they – is interbreeding doesn't weaken them?
00:27:40] JA: Oh, Mother Nature takes care of that. When you've got something on the bottom of the food chain that deals with thousands of offspring or tens of thousands of offspring, they're genetically diverse enough that the likelihood of mother and the son breeding is not very good. But if they do, it's still going to be a viable offspring. Just like cattle. Cattle are bred back, dogs are bred back. Horses are bred.
00:28:06] KM: Is cattle considered farming?
00:28:09] JA: Yes.
00:28:10] KM: That's why fish is considered farming.
00:28:12] JA: Agriculture and aquaculture are one in the same. Agriculture, you're going to grow something in soil. Aquaculture, you're growing it in water.
00:28:20] KM: What's your biggest fish that you sell the most? What's your biggest product?
00:28:22] JA: The golden shiners are the bulk of our volume.
00:28:24] KM: What's a golden shiner?
00:28:25] JA: The golden shiner is one of the native baitfish around the big part of the country. Of course, there's golden shiner, silver shiners, there's multiple versions, just like a lab, and a poodle and a cockatoo or whatever. That may be a bird. But yes, the golden shiner is native to Arkansas. It's native to most of the states in the country. Therefore, it's legal to ship across the country. Because it's native, and because it's easy to grow, and it likes the climate, then that's definitely the bulk of our sales. If you go into the average bait shop anywhere in the US, nine out of 10 of them are going to be carrying golden shiners or –
00:29:05] KM: What's the difference between a goldfish and a koi?
00:29:08] JA: Goldfish and koi, they're just a close cousin. They're both in the cart family. They're just, I say, the difference between a standard poodle and a miniature poodle.
00:29:19] KM: You sell on your website golden shiners, which you said are your best sellers.
00:29:22] JA: Yes.
00:29:24] KM: Fat heads. What are those?
00:29:24] JA: Fatheads, it's a northern fish that was brought down to the south decades ago, by not only the pond stocking industry, but also the bait industry. We started growing it back in I'm going to say, probably the 60s, but was more northern, like the Great Lakes states. That's where the bulk of the fatheads originated. Now they're all over the country.
00:29:51] KM: And they're just little bitty fish.
00:29:53] JA: Just small fish, yes.
00:29:53] KM: Just little bitty minnow like fish.
00:29:55] JA: Right. They're in lakes, and rivers, and streams as forest fish.
00:29:59] KM: The prettiest one your website is the pink minnow.
00:30:00] JA: Yes, it is basically an albino fathead. They are selected, the light color is selected in the broodstock. Every spring, when we get our broodstock ready for the pink minnow, if there's any that have reverted back, that recessive gene is going back to black. We pick that out so that the odds are going to be that they're all going to be pink.
00:30:23] KM: What's a sardine?
00:30:24] JA: Sardine is just saltwater fish, kind of like an anchovy or a menhaden.
00:30:32] KM: They look like minnows to me. That shows how much I know about it.
00:30:34] JA: It's an ocean fish, like a minnow, it's on the bottom of the food chain.
00:30:38] KM: But you did invent your own breed.
00:30:40] JA: Didn't invent the own breed. We selectively bred for traits to create the black salty, which is to my knowledge still the only patented trademark baitfish in the world to my knowledge.
00:30:53] KM: Saltwater?
00:30:53] JA: Yes. What we did was we bred it to withstand saltwater long enough to be used for bait, so it lives and breathes in freshwater on the farm, but it can be sold as the saltwater bait, but it will not live in full string saltwater and be viable.
00:31:11] KM: Is there any other fish like that?
00:31:12] JA: Not that I'm aware of. Not that I'm aware of.
00:31:16] KM: Clever.
00:31:18] JA: The hard part about the bait industry, especially when it comes to marketing and branding is, all of our products look the same. You go to any bait shop in the country, you can't tell if that's my minnow or my neighbor's minnow. But with the black salty, for the first time in history, we were able to differentiate between our customer and somebody else's. So we could actually say, "Hey! If you want the black salty, we want you as a customer." You can use that to promote Anderson Meta Farms and Anderson Meta Farm's fish. Otherwise, you can't tell the difference between my minnow and somebody else's.
00:31:50]KM: Why does somebody in Arkansas want a black salt?
00:31:53] JA: Actually, we're selling more in freshwater now than we are in saltwater. Saltwater fisherman, we're bringing it back and striper fishing with it, largemouth bass fishing, cat fishing with it. It's just an extremely tough fish that can do anything. It lives very, very well. Very hearty. Once I started doing that, we're selling more for catfish, and a striper fish than we are in saltwater now.
00:32:18] KM: I know least as much about fishing. Different fish like to eat different fish.
00:32:24] JA: Not necessarily. Big eats little. A bass eats a small bass. A crappie eats a small crappie, but it will also eat a shiner, a goldfish.
00:32:34] KM: Why do you need all these different kinds?
00:32:37] JA: A lot of it is fishermen preference.
00:32:40] KM: If it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter.
00:32:42] JA: Well, a lot of it also, they're certain states that we cannot sell a shiner in. Certain states cannot sell a fathead in.
00:32:49] KM: Why?
00:32:48] JA: Because they're gaming fish or DNR has determined it to be a nonnative fish or something like that. Like you get out in the western states, take Colorado. You can sell a shiner on the eastern slope, a fathead on the western slope, and maybe one or the other above a certain altitude. They're just extremely specific. You have to really know the rules, and regs, not only if you're selling into the state, but also if you're buying and bringing into the state.
00:33:16] KM: Are you held responsible if somebody buys, and ships and you ship there? Are you held responsible or is the buyer held responsible?
00:33:21] JA: In some circumstances, both of us? It just kind of depends on the state and the circumstance. But we – I've got a team there in the office that are very diligent on knowing, "Okay. Where is this fish going?" Knowing the address it's being delivered to. Going as far as to ask, "Okay. You're in a state that has some really odd laws. Where are you going to be using this fish?" All you can do is assume they're telling the truth.
00:33:47] KM: How many fish do you ship a day?
00:33:48] JA: It all depends on the season. I mean, it may be a really big day in the spring, we may sell between 15,000, 20,000 pounds of fish.
00:33:56] KM: How many people does it take to load that stuff? You have to use big equipment?
00:34:00] JA: You do. It's easier to use big equipment versus by hand if you're going to do it in bulk but you know, we've got a staff of 50 people in the spring.
00:34:08] KM: They probably all have to ship overnight, right?
00:34:10] JA: No, no. We do still sell wholesale by trucks. We may load an 18-wheeler today that's going to the east coast, and going to drop off it one or more customers.
00:34:19] KM: How many days will they stay alive?
00:34:21] JA: They'll stay alive as long as you take care of the water quality though. They're going to stay alive indefinitely in that truck. But the quicker you get them off, the better because they will foul the water, so you have to do a water change if they're going to be on there more than about 48 hours, you want to change the water. But anywhere in the country that we're going to truck to, they're often 48 hours.
00:34:38] KM: Who trucks them? Is it your people trucks them?
00:34:40] JA: We have a contractor that does the trucking.
00:34:42] KM: He knows how to change the water?
00:34:42] JA: Oh, yes.
00:34:44] KM: Wow! There's so much to this. Could anybody get in this business today if they wanted to?
00:34:47] JA: Anybody can. There's one check away is what I tell them. You got us one check and you're in it. To answer your question though, anybody can get in it, just like any type of agriculture. The upfront cost is enormous. The cost of land, the cost of equipment, trucks,
tractors, just simply building ponds, the cost is enormous. Buying an existing operation is certainly the better thing to do.
00:35:22] KM: So everybody, all these big conglomerates are buying up in not just your industry, but in every industry. Bill Gates, he's bought – how many? Let me see. 48,000 acres in –
00:35:33] JA: I think he's over two million acres just himself alone. I don't think that's all in Arkansas, but –
00:35:37] KM: No, that's – oh, yeah. That's not all in Arkansas. But in Arkansas, he has almost 50,000 acres in Arkansas.
00:35:43] JA: As a consumer, that should worry you.
00:35:47] KM: That's what I was going to ask you. You live in that area, does that bother you?
00:35:50] JA: It does. I don't want one person having a say so in what I live on. Whether it'd be food, or fuel or anything else.
00:35:58] KM: Well, God's not making any more land.
00:36:01] JA: You know, but it does worry me, but there's not much I can do about it. You know, unless a state or the Feds maybe came up with a rule. I know that on the federal level, they have capped what China can buy, in terms of land or businesses.
00:36:22] KM: Yeah, they can own the country. I never thought of that bad.
00:36:24] JA: They don't want another company having a monopoly.
00:36:27] KM: They don't seem to care about that on certain things though.
00:36:30] JA: They do not. It all depends on who's in power, and who's – that's a hole we could dive into.
00:36:36] KM: Yeah. No, right. I feel like Amazon is running a lot of mom and pops out of business, you know. Like I'm saying, what about your industry. Are people going to come in there and buy you up, and we're going to have two fish factories, eventually, one day?
00:36:52] JA: That's always a possibility, but I don't see that in the near future at all. Now, food fish would be probably something that somebody would gear towards in terms of buying or owning a majority of it, so you can control price. The world is going to run out of food eventually. That's why Bill Gates is doing what he's doing.
00:37:12] KM: Yeah, he likes production.
00:37:12] JA: Building controlled price. But aquaculture provides a very, very healthy source of protein in other countries of the world. Fish is a major source. You don't see cattle ranches in impoverished countries. You see, they're fishing off the coast. The United States needs to wake up and understand 95% of what they're eating in terms of seafood is important. That's scary. If we could simply allow their lacks regulations, more operations to produce our seafood here, whether it be a fin fish, or whether it be shrimp, or – it certainly makes sense for our country.
00:37:56] KM: Are their strict regulations to make fish?
00:37:57] JA: Absolutely.
00:37:59] KM: Why would that be?
00:38:00] JA: To give you just a little bit of perspective, we are a simple baitfish operation in Lonoke, Arkansas. We ship to over 44, 45 states, but we are regulated because of the state and Fed agencies in each one of those. We are regulated by over 60 state and federal agencies that we have to adhere to their policies, their paperwork, their ever-changing rules and laws. We have to keep up with that.
00:38:28] KM: Do you have a lawyer on staff?
00:38:30] JA: No, but –
00:38:30] KM: You need one.
00:38:31] JA: We do. But you know, that's just a simple baitfish operation. If I was trying to raise salmon off the coast of Washington, in a bay, then you're talking about millions of upfront costs just to get the paperwork and the permits, before you ever even put a fish in the water. That didn't happen in other countries.
00:38:52] KM: I don't understand why it would be that way. It's not like the airline business trying to keep other airline companies out of the industry.
00:38:58] JA: A lot of its local governments, but in the state waters, and then its federal government in the federal waters.
00:39:04] KM: But it seems like they would want to grow a business.
00:39:07] JA: You would think so, you would think so. But they would rather, our salmon be imported from Chile for whatever reason. I sit on the board of the National Aquaculture Association and we represent all of aquaculture. Like I say, everything you can imagine that lives in water. So we have board members from the salmon industry, from the trout industry, oysters, shrimp, lobster, so we have all those represented on our board. I think I have it hard until I hear what they deal with.
00:39:39] KM: Do you worry about –I sometimes watch documentaries about overfishing for salmon? Do you worry about overfishing our oceans?
00:39:47] JA: We're not going to over fish hours because they have such strict limits on it. That's why a farm-raised salmon makes sense. But other countries across the world, salmon don't just live on one coast. They swim across the ocean. Others countries in the world have zero limits.
00:40:02] KM: You started a hatchery you said in 1999. What events led up to you deciding to do that?
00:40:09] JA: Well, dad kind of made the decision simply because we were needing to grow, which means more broodstock, more fry to spread to grow out.
00:40:18] KM: What is fry? I keep reading that all over your website. Fry, fry.
00:40:22] JA: Fry is just a baby fish. Yes, we needed more broodstock, more eggs, more fry, which meant more land, more labor. That was just really not affordable. The hatcheries have been used for years with other species of fish. It had just never been done on large scale for shiners or for baitfish. But it had been done to university, so they knew it could work. But the university system versus a farm system is much different and the scale we needed was going to be pretty large. Anyway, we built the building, plumbed it, all that. That was my first three to four months back on the farm.
00:40:58] KM: How old were you?
00:40:59] JA: I was 22.
00:41:00] KM: Oh, that's too young to give you that responsibility. Just saying. Okay, go ahead. That's before you knew him, right, Elizabeth?
00:41:06] EA: Yes.
00:41:08] KM: Okay. Well, she dead got in training.
00:41:09] JA: Oh, yeah.
00:41:10] KM: All right, go ahead.
00:41:11] JA: We started that. And of course, it was rough in the beginning, just getting the numbers. The sheer volume you need was really hard. But it took two to three years to really get it nailed down. Once it was nailed down, now we're doing 1.3 billion average on the shiners. It's
how many head we produce. We're producing roughly 100 million goldfish, roughly 75 million black salty. The fat heads, around 300 million.
00:41:42] KM: A year.
00:41:42] JA: A year. Actually, in about four weeks.
00:41:45] KM: Because there's a season.
00:41:47] JA: There's a season. You want to correlate the hatchery with the normal spawning season, so that the fish are ready, it's easier, you don't have to change photoperiod. You don't have to change temperatures.
00:41:57] KM: Are they staggered? Are the season staggered for each fish, or is it all light comes out in spring?
00:42:01] JA: Springtime is the dad. It's chaotic.
00:42:06] KM: You're like a CPA in April.
00:42:08] JA: You eat, sleep and breathe it for a few weeks. Then if everything goes well, then you just got to keep them alive for the next 12 months.
00:42:14] KM: Oh! You do keep them alive for 12 months.
00:42:16] JA: Right. That's the production part of it that everybody doesn't understand, even some of our customers. Is, that fish is – all those fish are born the same time. And then you get to have not only the size of fish today available, but also 12 months from now of the fish that was born the same day.
00:42:33] KM: Why can't you staggered those? Your control in this –
00:42:37] JA: It wouldn't be efficient. You would have to get the water temperatures, right? You'd have to change the photo period. You'd have to keep your hatchery running all year. It's easier just to get it. Then by density and feeding, you keep fish small or make fish grow.
00:42:53] KM: Five million pounds a feed per year. Where do you store five million pounds of feed?
00:42:58] JA: Well, the feed mills are constantly making it. They deliver weekly.
00:43:01] KM: What do you feed? What is it?
00:43:04] JA: The feed, it's similar to dog food. It is a pelletized food that's formulated for those fish.
00:43:10] KM: Just like a throw in the fishbowl.
00:43:12] JA: No. The fishbowl feed, the flakes, they'll keep that goldfish alive, but he's not going to grow.
00:43:18] KM: Oh, it's protein based or something.
00:43:20] JA: Right. The protein, the fat, the lipids all that, the formulation of this feed is specific for those fish. It'd be be different for crappie, or bass or catfish. But for these baitfish, it's specific to maximize their growth potential.
00:43:37] KM: We're going to talk now and end up in the show on how these two people are paying forward their knowledge, and their experience and their prosperity. Your family was named Farm Family of the Year in 2019. Talk about that experience.
00:43:51] JA: It's great to be recognized, no doubt. But my line that I've said over and over is you try to stay humble, and you don't do it to be recognized. We do what we do, because we love it, especially farming. It's not easy. But there's 1000 farms out there that deserve the exact same recognition. We're no different. But Elizabeth and I, we just do our best. We come from amazing families. We were certainly given an advantage, so we don't want to take that for
granted and we want to stay humble. We want to not only give back ourselves in the same capacity. If not, hopefully more than the generation before us, but also teach our children why we do what we do. They often question why are we going to a meeting at night or why are we doing this, or that and it's the same, the same answer. We've got to give back.
00:44:42] KM: You're setting examples.
00:44:44] JA: Yes.
00:44:45] KM: Lonoke Agricultural Business Academy. Elizabeth, why was that important for you?
00:44:52] EA: Well, Jamie and I chaired a millage campaign right before COVID hits and passed a millage check to raise $12 million to build a facility which is a partnership with ASU-Beebe and Baptist Health. It was important to do it because I sit on the school board in Lonoke. My main purpose in being part of the school board is because, I think public education can be so much better. Lonoke has a fantastic public school, and it's important to me to see it succeed. By providing opportunities for our students that they wouldn't necessarily have in other school districts, it gives Lonoke schools a heads up, it's about developing this agricultural-based academy, which teaches diesel mechanics, agricultural classes, aquacultural classes, industrial technology, those type classes where these kids can get their hands on and learn about agriculture before they actually enter the workforce.
We also are teaching about rural health care, which is so important for Arkansas. There's so many communities around Arkansas that are losing their health care workers, are losing doctors, and that's how they sustain their communities. If you don't have a doctor, or even a nurse practitioner just within your community, then you can't live there.
00:46:07] KM: Why are they losing them?
00:46:09] EA: Just the draw to live in those types of communities. A doctor who seeks patients in rural Arkansas does everything. They do everything because there are no local hospitals. They become the urgent care in that community. A lot of these nurses are going to where the money is.
00:46:34] KM: That really bothers me. That doctoring is so much about the money, it's so much about specializing and money, and burning and churning through as many people as you can. I mean, what did happen to the family practitioner?
00:46:47] EA: You know, I'm not really sure if it just became overwhelming, or – Jamie's uncle, Dr. Les Anderson is our doctor in Lonoke, and he's been there for over 50 years.
00:46:59] JA: He's in his late '70s, and he could retire if he wanted to, but he just – it's in his heart that he wants to keep going and not only still treating people, but he's volunteering to work at our health facility there at the academy, and training the next generation of doctors and nurses.
00:47:19] KM: Teachers and nurses are angels to me.
00:47:21] EA: They are.
00:47:22] KM: Why is farming important and why is teaching this trade school important?
00:47:29] EA: Well, it's important because agriculture is what sustains Lonoke. It is the economy of Lonoke. The only way to sustain our education program is to teach these kids that college is not necessarily the path for everyone. In Lonoke, only about 30% of their kids attend college, and out of that 30%, only half of them actually completed. Why not gear these kids a direction in the beginning, in the 9th and 10th grade on, "Hey! There are opportunities out there. You can go and learn about aquaculture, and go work on the farm, and make a great living without coming out of college with all this debt and no degree."
00:48:10] KM: Boy, you're preaching to the choir.
00:48:12] EA: I know.
00:48:13] GM: Amen.
00:48:14] EA: There's so many kids out there that –
00:48:16] KM: Are you still paying on your –
00:48:20] JA: Oh, sure. Yeah. I'm 34. Of course, I am.
00:48:23] EA: There are so many kids out there that are told college, college, college and you've got to get there and that's the way to be successful. But there are so many – so many career paths that you can be successful without a college degree if that's from plumbing, to farming, to diesel mechanic. Diesel mechanic can make six figures.
00:48:42] KM: Those guys have got to learn computers to be a diesel mechanic. I mean, to be a mechanic today, you need to have almost a 90 degree that you can get at a vo-tech school.
00:48:52] EA: Absolutely.
00:48:52] KM: I went to a vo-tech school and it was priceless for me.
00:48:56] JA: Governor Hutchinson was touring our academy when we open the doors, and he made the comment. We showed him the nursing and health care. We showed him the welding. We showed him the office management, the diesel mechanics. He said, "I thought his was ag based." I said, "Well, my company can't get by without any of this. I've got welders. I've got mechanics. I've got office staff. We obviously all have to go the doctor." I said, "This is a part of agriculture. The trucks and tractors get it out of the field into the granary." An ag business needs all of that. It's not just about putting the seed in the ground or the fish in the pond. It's got to have the whole support system.
00:49:40] KM: Never thought about that.
00:49:41] JA: That's part of why this academy is what it is. Rural towns, we lose our workforce almost immediately. The ones that do stay, half of them live on government assistance the rest of their lives.
00:49:54] KM: I know.
00:49:55] JA: Like yesterday, we had a job for them at our high school. I'm the chairman of Our Business Education Cooperative. We arranged a job forum, so we had everybody from Caterpillar to Benny Keith, to My Farm, to City Public Works, had everybody there to show these kids, "Hey, these are well paying jobs right down the street." If you're not going to college, don't worry about it. Come straight to us. For the ninth and 10th graders, go to that business academy and learn some of these trades that I need along with everybody else in town. And go make very, very good money, right, at 18. Don't wait till you're 21 or 22 with college debt, and a degree that nobody cares about.
00:50:40] KM: Do you think they should teach finance in high school?
00:50:42] JA and EA: Absolutely.
00:50:46] KM: That's a loaded question.
00:50:46] GM: Say it again.
00:50:47] JA: My biggest problem with employees is they run out of money before Friday comes. They say they have a money problem, but no, they have a budget problem. They don't understand what percentage of their budgets is going to cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets, all that. They don't realize it's half or more their budgets go into that, and so they don't see it. But they've never been taught to do a budget. I think our school system is really failing.
00:51:12] KM: Thank y'all so much for everything you do, volunteering at the ballpark, building schools, having job fairs, teaching people how to open up checking accounts. Y'all are great. I just want to give you your gift for both of y'all. It's a desk set for both of your offices.
00:51:32] JA: Yes, much needed. Thank you very much.
00:51:34] EA: Yes. Thank you.
00:51:35] KM: For the listeners. It's a US and Arkansas flag to set on their desk. You need one at the bank. You probably have a big one floor, but you need one behind your desk.
00:51:42] JA: I need one at the farm.
00:51:43] EA: Yes. Thank you.
00:51:44] KM: Thank y'all very much for joining me.
00:51:46] JA: Thank you for having us.
00:51:47] EA: Thanks for having us.
00:51:47] EA: You're very welcome. In closing to our listeners, thank you for spending time with us. We hope you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring, or enlightening, and that whatever it is, we'll help you up your business, your independence or your life. Kerry McCoy, and I'll see you next time on Up in Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
END OF EPISODE]
00:52:09] GM: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. For links to resources you heard discussed on today’s show, go to flagandbanner.com, select radio show and choose today’s guest. If you’d like to sponsor this show or any show, email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. All interviews are recorded and posted the following week. Stay informed of exciting upcoming guest by subscribing to our YouTube channel or podcast wherever you like to listen. Kerry's goal is simple. To help you live the American dream.