Ag News

Monroe County's James Vaughn named 2018 Georgia Farmer of the Year

Monroe County Farm Bureau member James Vaughn has been named the 2018 Georgia Farmer of the Year, according to a University of Georgia press release.

Under his leadership, Vaughn Farms has grown from a 500-acre cattle farm to a 5,590-acre diversified farm. Working as a team, Vaughn and his wife, sons and daughter grow Bermudagrass hay for local and wholesale markets, raise cattle for the specialized beef market, sell bred heifers and registered bulls, grow 4,000 acres of timber and train cutting horses. Vaughn also provides legal assistance in farm-related areas as a partner in the law firm of Vaughn, Wright and Boyer LLP.  

After graduating from college and law school and practicing law in Savannah, Vaughn returned to Monroe County to take over the farm his father established in the 1950s with a small herd of registered Angus cattle. Today, Vaughn Farms has 425 cow-calf pairs; 50 are registered and the others are purebred commercial Angus.

Recognizing the benefit of niche marketing, Vaughn direct markets feeder calves to southwest Iowa. Beef from the farm is sold into export following harvest through an integrated market for nonhormone-treated cattle.

Vaughn markets Vaughn Farms cattle through the Georgia/Iowa Family Farm to Family Fork program. The hormone-free marketing program seeks marketing premiums for cattlemen who produce safe, quality, consistent beef using humane and hormone-free procedures.

Vaughn was nominated by Caitlin Bennett Jackson, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent in Monroe County.

Vaughn and his wife, Beth Vaughn, work on the farm and hold down full-time off-farm jobs. He is a local attorney and she chairs the board of a community bank. Two of their sons, Matthew and Jordan Vaughn, joined them in the farm business full time. Benjamin Vaughn, also an attorney, holds a forestry degree and assists with timber management and production. Their daughter, Jennifer Vaughn Hickson, is an equine veterinarian assistant. She lives in South Carolina but shows cutting horses on the circuit with Jordan Vaughn.

Vaughn protects the ecosystems on the farm and outside its boundaries by maintaining stream buffers and roads and using sustainable methods.

Through his involvement with the Forsyth-Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, Vaughn Farms hosts an annual farm tour to emphasize the economic impact of agriculture.

At this year’s Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition, James Vaughn will represent Georgia and compete against farmers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia for the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award.