County Committee Advisor Gives Back to FSA and Community
For Tommy Caillier, being an advisor on the Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committee was the least he could do to give back to his farming community.
“[FSA] has bent over backwards to help me become successful,” said Caillier. “Anything I can give back, I will do.”
Growing up on a farm in Lafayette, Louisiana, Caillier said he always wanted to be a farmer. But that didn’t happen immediately. Instead, he went into law enforcement, serving with the Lafayette Police Department for 25 years, until he retired in 2007.
It was retirement that brought him back to his dream of owning a farm. He purchased 115 acres of land to start his cow/calf operation. Then he came to the FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for help.
“I sat down with them and told them what I wanted and how many cattle I needed and they worked to make it happen,” said Caillier, who received an operating loan to purchase cattle, a tractor and hay equipment. He also attended FSA financial seminars and was referred to NRCS where he learned about the best grasses to use and rotational grazing.
“I was a new farmer in the area. All of the others had been there forever,” said Caillier. But after almost 6 years of successful farming, people took notice – including the FSA Rapides/Grant Parish Office, which asked him to become an advisor for the FSA County Committee (COC)
“He was a new cattle producer to the area who had good firsthand knowledge of the programs USDA had available because he participated in programs that helped kick start his cattle operation,” said FSA County Executive Director Matt Gwin. “He came highly recommended from other board members and has been a great asset to the COC.”
Caillier accepted the COC advisor position with a mission of getting socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers involved with FSA programs. “It’s not difficult, but you need to have an open mind and be able to do things that help socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers,” said Caillier, who communicates with minority and women farmers and ranchers to inform them about FSA programs available to them. The challenge is “getting them to take the first step,” he said.
In addition to working with the COC, Caillier continues to work in law enforcement as a city marshal, while continuing to build his cow/calf operation, which is now up to 50 cows. He hopes to expand to 100 in the near future. In the meantime, he has plans to start mentoring young farmers.
“If I can just get one farmer started by mentoring and get them to know and understand how these [FSA] programs help, then I’ve done a good job.”