It has been said that if you do something you love, it won’t ever seem like work. Howard Hammons is the living embodiment of that philosophy, and at the end of a long and satisfying career in poultry farming he is ready to devote more time to a grandchild and serving his community.
A resident of the Pineville community in Smith County, MS, Hammons grew up in the poultry business. His father operated several houses, and Howard was immersed in their operation from an early age. And when his folks retired in the 1980s, it seemed a natural step to pick up the baton and carry on. He bought his parents’ farm in 1986 and stepped into the role of boss. “The poultry industry – you either like it or you don’t,” he says. And Howard Hammons liked it. He’s always raised broilers, and explains that he’s “enjoyed watching how fast they grow.” The houses that were once his dad’s performed well but they were far from modern, and in time they needed upgrades. The high cost of the necessary work didn’t make fiscal sense for decades-old properties, however, and Howard made the decision to move on, at least temporarily.
But the draw of the poultry business was strong, and after a period away from it Howard decided to become involved again. And when he came back he did it in a big way: In the early 2000s, he built eight 50-by-500-foot houses and began raising birds for Peco. Several years later, a nearby farm became available, and before long Howard found himself the owner of 16 flourishing poultry houses. Managing such an operation could present immeasurable pulls on a sole proprietor’s time. But Howard’s business thrived in part because of a great team. “I’ve always been fortunate,” he says. “I’ve had really good help on the farm. That’s allowed me to leave for a week or so now and then, since I always knew things would be in good hands.” Many people have hobbies or pastimes apart from their professional lives; Howard Hammons has a unique extracurricular activity. He’s serving his fifth term as a member of the Smith County Board of Supervisors, setting policy and adopting a multimillion-dollar budget in service of the county’s 16,000 residents. Referring to his time in elected office, Hammons says, “I hope I’ve made my county a better place to live.” Howard downsized a bit a couple of years ago, selling one of his farms. And when he hit the 65-years-old milestone recently, he decided to retire from the poultry business altogether. “I thought it was the right time,” he explains.
Howard has two children; his daughter is a nurse at University of Mississippi Medical Center, while his son owns two poultry houses of his own. But the son – between a high-school teaching job, raising show pigs, and his chickens – chose not to expand. Elected office is still part of Howard Hammons’ life, and county supervisors have a never-ending list of activities to attend to. And that grandchild will surely take up the rest of his free time.
Article above from American Poultry Farmer magazine, c/o AmericanPoultryCompany,Inc
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