Director Linda Grimes
(continued from last month’s column)
David Ragland is a lifelong farmer who comes from a long line of farmers – and the Ragland family has called LaRue County home for generations. Of all the changes that have taken place during that time, David has been a firsthand witness to arguably the most significant.
David says that modern technology has changed the face of the farming industry. He recounts how he has watched not only changes in machinery, but also in the availability and accessibility of information. He explains that at one time, it was understood that if someone worked hard, they could be successful. He says that it is more complicated than that now. Being successful today also includes understanding and using technology and information effectively. Automated feeding and GPS-guided tractors are just a few of the advancements that have significantly changed farming.
In helping to move his family’s business into the future, David follows in the footsteps of the generations before him. Like his grandfather, Roy, who convinced his neighbors to join the cooperative so that they could all benefit from electricity; and his father, Howard, who led that co-op through times of challenge and change as a director – David has navigated the uncertainty of a rapidly changing industry and helped to create new paths for his family and his community.
Caleb was born in 1986 and is the eldest child of David and Debbie. In 1990, his family moved to the “homeplace” where he grew up in the bedroom that once belonged to his grandfather, Howard.
Caleb was homeschooled, then attended his dad’s alma mater, Bryan College in Dayton, TN. He graduated college in 2008 and married his wife, Leanne. After his graduation, he worked with his father to expand the family hog operation. They undertook another major expansion in 2015. Today, Caleb and his brother, Josh, have their own partnerships in the family business with David.
Caleb and Leanne have three sons: Charlie, Cory and Carter. Their farm is in Magnolia, Kentucky about 2 miles from Shady Rest Farm. In addition to homeschooling the children, Leanne is very active in the LaRue County community. She is currently serving as president of the LaRue County Chamber of Commerce and is also involved with the LaRue County Industrial Foundation, Farm Bureau Board of Directors, LaRue County Extension Council, District Extension Board and Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom.
Caleb is also highly involved at the local and state level and even represents Kentucky nationally. Caleb serves on the board of directors of the Kentucky Soybean Association. In 2017, he became one of three people representing Kentucky on the American Soybean Association and serves on the executive committee of that group as secretary. Caleb explains that his responsibility in this position is to advocate for the industry and help set policy to shape the future for American soybean farmers.
In addition to these roles, Caleb serves as President of the Kentucky Livestock Coalition, past-President (and other positions) of the LaRue County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and a member of the Farm Service Association County Committee.
These represent just some of the ways Caleb is working to not only follow in the footsteps of his forefathers, but also to help forge a new path for the generations to come. The work he and his wife have done to represent their industry and contribute to their community led to their being recognized as Kentucky Farm Bureau’s Outstanding Young Farm Family in December 2020. They went on to win the National 2021 Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Ranchers Achievement Award.
As a 9th generation farmer, Caleb speaks proudly of the deep roots his family has in LaRue County. He values the key role his family played in bringing electricity to those early farms and the difference it made to their lives and futures. He continued his family’s involvement with the cooperative as a youth by attending Nolin annual meetings and the Ring Road office groundbreaking with his grandfather, as well as being named a Nolin scholarship recipient as a high school senior. Now as a farmer himself, he appreciates his relationship with the line crews that help him keep power running to his hog operation and the improved infrastructure he has seen develop in recent years.
Caleb and Leanne Ragland have made being involved in their community and actively working to shape the farming industry an important part of their lives. They had many examples to follow.
The first members of the Ragland family to settle a farm in LaRue County over 200 years ago could not have known what impact that decision would have not only on their family or their own corner of the world, but on the future of farmers around Kentucky and across the nation. Built on lives of service to their communities, the Raglands have helped to create a strong local foundation that will continue to have an important impact for years to come.
David Ragland receiving a Capital Credit check from Nolin Director Linda Grimes in 2020
Caleb Ragland pictured in 2004 after receiving a Nolin RECC scholarship
Caleb and Leanne Ragland with their children Charlie, Cory and Carter