Comment Column | Hard Work, Persistence, and Deep Faith

Posted on Jan 27, 2021
The Ragland Family is the 2020 Kentucky Farm Bureau Young Farm Family Award Winner & 2021 American Farm Bureau Federation Achievement Award Winner.

As a ninth-generation farmer, I have been surrounded by a strong farm family all of my life. Our roots in LaRue County date back to a time when Abraham Lincoln’s family lived here.

With those deep roots, the agriculture industry is more than just a family business to me. It is a passion, and tradition, and a duty to those we help feed throughout our state, our nation and the world.

While there is no place my wife Leanne and I would rather raise our three boys, the farm life – with its great rewards ­­– takes hard work, persistence, and deep faith.  Each new season we pray that our crops will flourish, our land will remain fertile, and our efforts will be profitable.

One thing we have discovered over the years is the need to be agriculture advocates as part of our daily farm activities.

While we feel a calling to do what we do, we also must continually inform a public that is not familiar with how their food is grown.

It never ceases to amaze me that many consumers know nothing about how their food makes it to the grocery store’s shelf. And, it must be said, that is not the fault of the public.

As farmers, we must make this uninformed public aware of what we do and how we do it. There are many out there in social media who keep a steady stream of misinformation flowing over the digital airwaves, and we cannot allow that banter to dominate the conversation.

But confronting these folks in their open forums isn’t the answer. We can play “he-said, she-said” all day long and never get anywhere. We have to be proactive.

What we must do is tell our stories simply, factually, personally, and frequently while we go about our daily work, attend community events, or through our own social media.

I have found most people are very interested in knowing the real facts about food production and farmers have a great deal of credibility with most consumers.  Through the years, we have made many new friends by sharing our story.

We must also get a new generation involved in our industry, be it directly on the farm or through the many ag-related occupations available? and needed? including those in advanced technology.

To say there is something for everyone in the agricultural industry is an understatement, and we know there are countless young people out there looking for a job where they can make a world of difference to a world in need.

I would love nothing better than to have my sons continue this tradition that dates back nine generations for the Ragland family. But that will be their choice.

My boys already understand the work ethic involved, even at a young age. They are learning to love our land and livestock and treat them both with respect.

I’m so proud of what we do and the heritage we have. Nothing would make me happier than to see this tradition continue, not just for our family but for all those who call the farm their home and all those who will ultimately find a home on the farm. I believe that “to who much is given, much is required.” We are truly blessed to farm as a family in Kentucky and we are compelled to share the great story of Kentucky agriculture with everyone we can reach.

Caleb Ragland and Family
2020 Kentucky Farm Bureau Outstanding Young Farm Family
2021 American Farm Bureau Federation Achievement Award Winners