First-Generation Caddo Parish Young Farm Couple Named Louisiana’s Best
By Carey Martin and Lacey Dodson, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation
NEW ORLEANS - Farming isn’t in his family, but it is in his soul.
In 2008, Adam Caughern was fresh out of college with the dream of becoming a farmer. Eleven years later, Adam and his wife Megan have not only become first-generation farmers, they were named Louisiana’s best young farmers at the 97th Annual Convention of the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation.
“We’re still kind of in shock. I don’t think it’s still quite sunk in yet,” said an overwhelmed Adam Caughern after winning Louisiana Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award Thursday night.
Farming and ranching is usually a family business, passed down from generation to generation. However, that isn’t the case with this couple who runs Precision Baling, LLC in Gilliam, Louisiana. Instead of farming, Adam’s family spent generations working on the railroad.
“I come from a long line of railroaders. My great-grandfather was a railroader, my grandfather was, my dad was, and somehow I became a farmer,” said Caughern.
However, his grandfather did help to plant the farming and ranching seed that eventually grew in Adam’s soul.
“My grandfather had a hobby herd of cattle that he took care of when he got off work, and as a young kid I loved going out there and seeing the cows and helping with the hay equipment.”
As Adam’s passion for agriculture grew, so did his farming activities. Baling hay in the summers for area ranchers during high school gave him the idea that there was money to be made in the hay business. While he was in college, opportunity knocked, and he answered.
“I had the opportunity to buy out a doctor’s farming operation. So, I took what he had and merged it with what I was already doing, and that’s how we got to where we are today,” he said.
Today, Caughern’s hay operation is a big one. Precision Baling, LLC bales between 30 and 40 thousand small square bales each year.
“We ship those out to feed stores, training stables, co-ops and large order buyers,” he said.
Other opportunities to diversify have come along over the last 11 years, and Caughern has taken advantage of them.
“We had the opportunity to start doing commercial spraying back in 2012, and now we’re doing 20 to 25 thousand acres of row crop spraying a year. We also pick cotton, haul cotton, ship grain and anything else we can do to make our operation more diverse,” said Caughern.
The Caughern’s credit their involvement in Farm Bureau for helping them to grow, both professionally and personally.
“In 2016, we were invited to attend a Young Farmer and Rancher leadership conference sponsored by Farm Bureau. We were just amazed at the opportunities that were available,” said Megan Caughern. “We were able to network with a lot of people that we had never met from all over the state, and we decided that this was definitely something we wanted to be a part of.”
Megan currently heads Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program in Caddo Parish, which works with local teachers by giving them tools to teach agriculture across the educational curriculum.
She also has a full-time job outside of the farm, but when duty calls, she can be found raking hay, loading the round bale processor, or taking care of their cattle herd—which is her favorite job.
“As soon as we started growing our cattle herd, that’s where I wanted to be was out in the pasture,” she said.
With the busy schedule she keeps there is one piece of technology that has helped her improve the functionality of their cattle herd.
“I just started recently using an app, Livestocked, and that way I can keep a record on my phone,” she said. “I’m able to plug that information in the app on my phone, and that helps me keep track of things whether I’m at the office or the pasture, just pull it right out of my pocket and there it is in my hand, ready to go.”
Although they live a busy lifestyle, Megan believes that even though times may get tough on the farm, it will be these same things that brings their family together in the long run.
“It’s also going to unify us as a family I think, because you know a lot of stuff has to be done together,” she said. “We have to communicate and work with one another.”
As winners of the 2019 Louisiana Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award, the Caugherns receive a $35,000 cash award from the Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company, along with several other prizes. They will also represent Louisiana in the national Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award competition at the American Farm Bureau convention in Austin, Texas in January of 2020.
For more information, visit www.lfbfconvention.org.
Founded in 1922, the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization representing more than 137,000 member families.