Spotlight on Riggs Farm in McCoy, TX
Pilgrim's is proud to highlight McCoy, Texas grower, Eric Riggs, owner of Riggs Farm. Riggs' parents, Wayne and Betty Riggs, built the farm in 1999. Riggs took it over in 2004 when Wayne and Betty moved to a nearby lake to enjoy their retirement years.
"I've lived here and worked on the farm on and off always," said Riggs. "My parents moved to my great grandparents' home in 1995. In 1999, we built the poultry houses. I graduated high school in 1999 and went to college where I received my forestry degree. I went to work for Natural Resource Services. After about three years, I came to the conclusion that farming was what I enjoyed. So back to the farm I went and I have been here ever since."
A Diversified Operation
Riggs Farm produces 750,000 chickens and 100 head of cattle on average every year.
"I have a herd of Gray Brahmans and F1 cattle along with the poultry. Both industries complement each other for profitability. I also have hay production yields," said Riggs.
"He's dedicated to what he does and he does an excellent job as far as his management," said Cody Weems, Pilgrim's Broiler Service Technician for Nacogdoches, Texas. "Riggs runs a tight ship, keeps everything in shape, and he's willing to try and do a lot of different things and I think that's what makes him a good grower."
Farms Grow Families, Too
Farms in rural East Texas are one of the main industries and keep local economies thriving. That's one reason Pilgrim's takes great pride in its vertical farming model, meaning all the farmers are independent business owners. Independent farms also keep the local culture authentic and true to Texans' traditional family values.
"Our farmers own their own farms. This is great for the local economy because it allows farmers the time and land to do other things, like grow a herd of cattle, as Riggs does. This is great for our economy in East Texas," said Weems.
"Oil, poultry and timber are three of the main industries in our area, so our economy revolves around them. Farming helps to create a family-oriented lifestyle, allowing families to work together, therefore creating stronger family ties," said Riggs, who returned to the family farm because of the peace he finds in being surrounded by four generations of his own family being nearby.
Pilgrim's farmers are often also employers, helping to stimulate the local economy. Riggs himself employs one full-time worker and three or four part-time employees between flocks and during hay season.
Having a degree in forestry has given Riggs added insight into environmental stewardship on his farm.
"My lands are maintained to maximize their use," Riggs said. "The chicken litter is used on my hay fields. My ponds are stocked with fish, for my enjoyment. Trees are left and also planted on my land to prevent erosion. I have a litter barn to store and maintain my litter to protect our environment. I perform regular soil testing to maintain the proper balance."
Weems agrees that Riggs is an environmentally conscious grower, "He runs the farm as a business and that means maintaining the land so it will reap rewards year after year. He keeps the place very well maintained and it looks very nice and he does a good job."
When Riggs isn't working on the farm he enjoys golf, fishing and hanging out with his friends and family on nearby Lake Murval.