By Craig Gautreaux and Randy LaBauve, LSU AgCenter
NEW ORLEANS — Adam Caughern, a 32-year-old Caddo Parish farmer, won the Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet contest at the 95th annual Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation State Convention. Participants in the competition simulate a meeting to discuss important agricultural issues.
Contestants were judged on their ability to problem solve, effectively communicate their positions, work cooperatively and present statements to an audience.
Caughern was chosen from a group of four finalists. Other competitors in the final round were Emmanuel Bankston, of St. Charles Parish, Kassie Leger, of St. Martin Parish, and Eddie Lewis, of Lafayette Parish.
“I came from a family of railroaders, but I always wanted to farm,” Caughern said.
Caughern runs a hay operation, does precision spraying and is involved in producing cotton, corn and soybeans on nearly 4,000 acres.
His interest in becoming a farmer came during his senior year at LSU-Shreveport, where he was studying business administration.
“I was in class, and my phone started blowing up. A man I knew wanted me to bale hay on a 1,000 acre lease in Arkansas,” said Caughern. “I bought some equipment to do it.”
Three weeks after buying the bailing equipment, he had another opportunity. A doctor near Gilliam convinced Caughern to oversee his hay operation.
“I managed the farm for a year, and he made me an offer to buy him out,” Caughern said. “I merged what I had with what he had to form Precision Bailing, LLC.”
After ten years of operation, Caughern’s bailing business has expanded to include converting large round bales to smaller square bales. These smaller bales are used primarily by horse owners and have increased his profitability.
While most of his hay is used as livestock feed, it has also been used on paintball courses, at a circus and on movie sets.
At first, Caughern’s parents were skeptical of his decision to enter the hay business. Now, along with his wife Megan, they are very supportive of him.
“We’ve been blessed and God’s taken care of us,” said Caughern. “No telling where we might end up.”
Caughern was hesitant to enter the contest, but he was persuaded by several people.
“They thought I would do well because I like to talk, and I am passionate about farming,” Caughern said.
By winning the contest he received a John Deere utility vehicle, equipment rental credit, cash prizes and gift cards. Sponsors of the contest were the Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company, H&E Equipment Services, Gowan, Syngenta, Conquest Completion Services, Choice Hotels and Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation.
The topic for the final discussion round focused on the shrinking number of farmers and how Farm Bureau could help first generation farmers and ranchers get started. All participants stressed the importance Farm Bureau has played in their success and how it will continue to play a role in attracting more young people to agriculture.
Caughern had a desire to remain close to home, and his farming operation allowed him to do that.
“I’m connected to the land. I enjoy seeing the incredible sunsets, and you can’t get that in the city,” said Caughern. “I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.”