Covington County family competes for top honors

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dakota and Amanda Caraway of Caraway Farms in Covington County are one of six outstanding farm families that will be showcased April 6 as they compete for the title of Alabama Farm of Distinction at the Alabama Farm-City Awards in Birmingham.

The winner will receive more than $12,000 in cash and prizes and will represent Alabama in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year contest at the Sunbelt Ag Expo Oct. 17-19.

Agriculture runs deep in Caraway’s family, but when it came time for him to put down roots, the Covington County farmer was on his own.

“All my family on both sides had been farmers, but by the time I came along, there wasn’t any farmland left or equipment,” he said. “So, I pretty much had to start from scratch.”

Eight years later, he has proven hard work and determination pay off. Caraway Farms now includes 740 acres of cotton, peanuts, hay and a 100-cow commercial beef herd. The Caraways also care for 500-700 stocker calves a year.

“If you’re going to be successful, you’re going to have to be determined because there are a lot of bumps along the road and a lot of setbacks,” he said.

Despite the challenges, Caraway says he wouldn’t trade jobs with anyone. “I love to take care of good land and make a good crop,” he said. “I have my wife working beside me and our kids out there with us all the time. It’s the only life I want.”

The Caraways have two children, Madison, 7, and Jack, 4.

Alabama Farm-City Committee Chairman Jeff Helms said the 2017 Farm of Distinction recipient will join an elite group of past winners.

“More than 30 Alabama farms have been recognized since the program’s inception,” Helms said. “They include family businesses raising everything from row crops and beef cattle to catfish and timber. Each of these farms is distinct because of the owners’ commitment to continual improvement and their positive impact on the community.”

Alabama’s Farm of Distinction will receive a John Deere Gator from SunSouth, TriGreen and AgPro dealers; a $1,000 gift certificate from Alabama Farmers Cooperative (AFC); $2,500 from Swisher International; and an engraved farm sign from Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance. All six finalists will receive a $250 AFC gift certificate.

Judges Jim Allen of AFC, Chris Cline of AgPro and Dr. Deacue Fields of Auburn University visited the farms March 1-3.