Catoosa County Success Stories
Ramey (PDF) (150 KB) html
Taylor (PDF) (321 KB) html
James Ramey of Catoosa County has been in the beef and poultry farming business for most of his 60+ years. About ten years ago, he was joined in the family business by his grandson, James Lyles. Mr. Ramey was one of the first local farmers to begin “dead bird composting.” His compost operation was up and running in the early 1980’s before it became a common and approved practice.
Three years ago, the Rameys acquired the abandoned dairy farm next to theirs. This added about 400 more acres for their business. Unfortunately there was no fencing on the new property. But thanks to the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP), administered by the Farm Services Agency with technical assistance through the Lafayette Field Office of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), they obtained some cost-share help.
The CCRP assisted with stream bank exclusion fencing. The Rameys have been working with the South Chickamauga Creek Land Treatment Watershed Program (PL566) for years. The PL566 has helped the family to decommission a lagoon, restore stream banks, install several heavy use areas, install cross fencing and watering facilities to allow for rotational grazing, and build a waste storage structure and composter for poultry facilities that were constructed on the additional acreage.
Ramey’s property is intersected by Bandy Road. In order to intelligently make use of all the land, they have developed a lane that actually runs under the road in order to safely move cattle and equipment without causing any traffic issues.
The Rameys are very enthusiastic about all the help they have received from Cindy Askew, District Conservationist and Bill Henderson, Soil Conservation Technician. They report that NRCS has been an aid in “total farm planning.”
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The beef cattle farm of Timothy and Marshall Taylor of Catoosa County is an excellent example of one generation passing the heritage of the family farm on to the next generation. In the midst of an area where many farms are being auctioned off and subdivided for residential development, the Taylors are making significant investments in the family farm.
The family has been working with the LaFayette-Dalton Field Office of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) and Soil Conservation Technician Bill Henderson to develop a conservation plan that addresses the resource concerns on the farm. Using that plan as a launching pad, the Taylors have been in a position to benefit from participating in several USDA programs to install conservation practices as well as enhance the management of the farm.
The Taylors currently are participating in the South Chickamauga Creek Land Treatment Watershed Project. This Project is funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service under the authority of the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act, Public Law 83-566(PL-566) as amended (16 U.S.C. 1001-1008). Cost-share funds have been available to landowners in the South Chickamauga Creek watershed since the project was authorized in 2001.
Through this program, the Taylors have been able to develop a spring on the property as an alternative source of water for the cattle along with the installation of the pipeline and troughs to distribute the water for better utilization of the land for grazing. Fencing has been installed to divide the existing pastures into manageable sizes to allow for rotational grazing. Fencing is planned for excluding the cattle from Cherokee Branch, a tributary to Tiger Creek, and limiting access by equipment to a reinforced stream crossing.
All areas for feeding and watering the cattle will be protected with geotextile and gravel to prevent erosion and provide a stable base for managing waste that accumulates there. Existing areas that were eroding have been stabilized and treated with vegetation. The efforts of the Taylors to be good stewards paid off when they decided to apply for USDA’s Grassland Reserve Program. This program provides an incentive payment for landowners to make a long term commitment to keep grasslands as grasslands.
Applications for the program are selected by a ranking process that prioritizes based on the threat of land to be converted, existing management, and proximity to other high value resource areas. The combination of their location with all of the structural and management improvements made on the farm culminated in a score that allowed them to enroll in the program. When the Limestone Valley Resource and Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council’s Coordinator, Doug Cabe, was looking for a site to demonstrate a solar powered pump, the Taylor farm was a prime candidate.
The RC&D had received funding through Georgia Energy Facilities Act (GEFA) to conduct the demonstration. The pump has been installed at the spring development and will be evaluated to determine its suitability for providing reliable power in remote locations for watering facilities for livestock. NRCS field office staff members, including six trainees, have had a valued opportunity to provide assistance to a family that is enthusiastically embracing the future of the family farm. The contributions of the Taylor family to the long term sustainability and viability of the farm will benefit future generations.
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