Story by Karl Wiggers and Neil Melancon
DIXIE - Usually for Jacob and Kari Rumbaugh, each morning begins with a long list of daily chores on their farm in Dixie, La.
On June 22, however, they woke up in New Orleans as the 2018 winners of the Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award. The award was presented to them at the Louisiana Farm Bureau’s Organizational Awards during its annual convention.
The Rumbaughs were chosen from a highly competitive field for their dedication to farming, family and Farm Bureau activities that exemplify Louisiana’s farming community.
“We’re very honored to be selected among our peers to receive an award like this,” Jacob says. “I know how progressive other young farmers and ranchers are in our area, so it means a lot.”
Not only do they manage 1,300 acres wheat, soybeans, corn and cattle pastures, but they ride herd on two young children as well, Ada and Reid.
Kari says winning this award reinforces what they teach their children everyday on the farm.
“The kids can see all of our hard work has come to fruition,” she said. “It makes the days that are hard worth it when this type of thing happens.”
Having their children with them on the farm is an integral part of their success, both as farmers and parents, Jacob said.
“Growing up we hoed cotton,” he said. “You get see the value of a dollar, you get to see the value of hard work. It really sets you up well for really any type of life. So with the kids, its the same way. They can see how hard we work.”
Jacob may have grown up around farming, but went to college and became a civil engineer. He left a successful engineering partnership and transitioned to full-time farming in 2013. Kari is also a college graduate and puts her business degree to work for the farm every day, especially when it comes to their herd of 320 cattle.
“Checking water, checking fences, checking for sick calves,” she said, listing off some of those daily chores involved with raising beef cattle. “I started keeping an electronic record of all of our calving.”
The Rumbaughs got into farming in 2008 when their parents liquidated their cattle herd to help them start with what Jacob describes as a “clean slate.” Jacob’s father, George, said not only have they returned this investment, but their skills in engineering and business have helped the farm thrive.
“Its pretty nice to have somebody that knows tech,” George Rumbaugh said. “When there’s a problem, I say, ‘Jacob!’ so that works real well. Now, we have the software and Jacob writes all the programs himself.”
The Achievement Award recognizes not only the couple’s farm prowess, but their service to the community at large. Kari said it’s reflected in the way her kids see how important agriculture is in the world.
“We actually sold some of our corn to Tyson, and the other day, my daughter and I were in Sam’s and she saw a big bag of Tyson chicken in the freezer and she got it out and she said, ‘Mom look, its Tyson chicken!” Kari said. “‘These chickens ate some of our corn.’ So that was really cool for me to know that she knew that and that she was proud that she had a part in that.”
“There’s value in what we do,” Jacob added. “We’re feeding the world. There’s two percent of us out there now in the United States that feeds the rest of the country, and to me there’s a lot of value. Its just a sense of pride, a sense of hard work. You know, pride in what your doing.”
As part of their prize package, the Rumbaugh’s will receive $35,000 courtesy of the Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company . In addition, they’ll come back to New Orleans in January of 2019 to compete for the American Farm Bureau YF&R Achievement Award.