Blazing a Trail

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Abbey Wagner of Sumner, Mississippi, didn’t envision herself as a farmer. “I don’t believe I necessarily chose agriculture. It chose me,” she says. “It has always been a huge part of my family as long as I can remember. It’s how my family has made a living and will continue to make a living.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Delta State University, Wagner knew she wanted to stay in the Mississippi Delta. She found the opportunity to do so back where she started. At her family’s Two Brooks Farm, Wagner markets the farm’s single estate rice, which is ecologically grown and milled in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, directly to consumers and restaurants.

“To be honest, I never would have imagined myself doing what I am doing now, and I would not be doing what I am doing if it wasn’t for my dad and mom.

“I am forever grateful my dad presented me with this opportunity,” she says. “I do not farm any land, yet. I am on the marketing side of Two Brooks Rice, and I am working in the rice mill. I’ve been told I make a pretty mean rice flour.”

She’s contemplating adding the production side of rice farming to her list of responsibilities. “I think it would benefit me to see every little detail and decision that goes into the planting, growing and harvesting of our product. I have very much enjoyed working on the marketing side though, meeting so many new people and amazingly talented chefs that use our rice.”

Wagner doesn’t see her role as a female in the industry as different from her male counterparts. “I think women and men both face obstacles in agriculture that need overcoming,” she says. “I offer another brain just like every other employee on the farm. We all work together to make this business work, and we all are learning something new every day. Two Brooks wouldn’t be able to run if it wasn’t for each and every employee we have.”

Wagner credits her parents’ worth ethic and sacrifice for her early career success.

“Every late night and early morning spent working, missed T-ball game, and money my dad saved, and not selfishly or luxuriously spent, was a sacrifice he made for his family,” she says. “My mother selflessly took on my brother and I full time, so my dad could fulfill his dreams, all while she continued to teach grade school, shuttle us back and forth from Sumner to Clarksdale for school and put a home-cooked meal on the table every night.”