In 1988, with their 3-month-old daughter, Hallie, in tow, John and Wendy Shoffner settled in Northeast Arkansas to start an agricultural research farm, Shoffner Farm Research. John, the former manager of a 20,000-acre corporate farm in Texas, and Wendy, a plant physiologist from Sarasota, Florida, returned to John's family ground and a legacy of more than 100 years.
Over three decades, John and Wendy performed thousands of research trials, working mostly in soybeans but also with cotton, corn, rice, wheat, canola, okra, and sunflowers. In 1998, SFR Seed conducted its first study with GMO soybeans. Two years later, the farm grew its first small soybean and rice varieties.
Today, SFR Seed, born of Shoffner Farm Research, manages 1,500 acres of rice and soybean increases and plot trials for customers in Asia, Europe, South America, and the United States.
John & Wendy Shoffner
John and Wendy met in a soybean field in Texas. It was love at first sight. A year later, they were married. A year after that, they packed up their few belongings and their infant daughter to move back to John's childhood home.
Wendy was born in Florida to a homemaker and a retired Air Force officer. She grew up in a time that required girls to wear dresses to school, but Wendy much-preferred camping, visiting her grandmother's farm in the MidWest, and gardening with her dad. She insisted she would marry a farmer when she grew up. Instead, she got a degree in plant physiology and became a farmer in her own right.
Wendy blazed a path for women in the early 80s world of corporate field research before meeting John, that farmer husband. With Wendy at the helm of their research, the couple built one of the most reputable research farms in the Mid-South.
John is a native of Shoffner, Arkansas, and the fifth generation of his family to cultivate Shoffner ground. He grew up working alongside his grandfather running cattle and farming cotton, rice, soybeans, wheat, hay, watermelon, and oats. As early as seven, John carried water to field hands picking cotton. He remembers getting to drive his grandfather's one-row cotton picker, the first in the county. In his teens, John worked every summer on the farm before striking out on his own.
He moved to Texas to manage Farms of Texas, a 20,000-acre corporate farm owned by the royal family of Liechtenstein. It was in a rice field he met the love of his life and future business partner. John managed the farm infrastructure and crop health alongside his wife and is revered as one of the most knowledgeable research farm managers in the Mid-South.
Shoffner, Arkansas, was once a thriving farming community and, alongside neighboring farms, supported a post office, mercantile, schoolhouse, two churches, and a sawmill. The railroad built a switch to stop at the Shoffner Gin to pick up the bales of cotton. Today, the area is farmed by SFR Seed's team including John and Wendy's daughter, Hallie Shoffner, and Loftin "Jack" Shoffner Kent. The Shoffner land was declared an Arkansas Century Farm by Governor Asa Hutchinson in 2017.