Hometown: Statesville, NC
Size of Operation: 600-625 cows, 1,000 acres
Years in Business: 60
Years Working with Farm Credit: 40+
Carroll Goodman is a first-generation farmer who is following the strong tradition of family farms by involving both his son and grandsons in what is now a generational dairy operation.
The son of a butcher, Carroll grew up dreaming of becoming an independent farmer. "I was farming in the sandbox," he says. "Before I was even in school, I was playing with my toy tractors behind the house." He started gaining some real-life experience from the time he was 10 years old by helping his grandfather tend his beef cattle herd. He was paid for that work, and as soon as he had enough money, he bought his first heifer when he was just a young teenager. He started growing his herd almost from the beginning, and says, "Every time I'd get enough money together, I'd buy another cow."
More goes into a successful dairy operation than just the cows, of course, and Carroll's commitment shows here as well. When he was 16 or 17, he'd saved up money to buy a car; instead, he bought a set of milkers since his herd had grown past the point that hand-milking was feasible. At 18 or 19, he took out his first Farm Credit loan to buy a tractor. From the time he was 20 or 21, he started buying acreage to raise silage, starting with his father's and grandfather's, and expanding further from there. To learn what he needed, he took agriculture courses through high school, and of course also learned by doing, saying, "I learned a lot from just milking and farming on my own." Those lessons have paid off over the years—as his Carolina Farm Credit loan officer, John Ervin says, "Carroll just does a lot of things right."
Much has changed for Carroll since he started farming. He's methodically grown his herd and his acreage to its current 600+ head and 1,000 acres, half of silage and half of wheat and soybeans, which are sold to a local elevator. He's made the transition to fully automated milking, selling his milk products to a local distributor. Perhaps the biggest change since he bought that first cow is getting married and starting his family, which now includes his son, Scott, and grandsons, Callum and Tyler, all three of whom are employed full-time on the farm, with Carroll now focusing on the crop land and the next generations managing the dairy herd. Though not directly involved in his operation, Carroll's other two children haven't strayed far: His daughter, Carolyn, is married to a local dairyman and his son, Brett, lives in Winston-Salem.
As for what comes next for Carroll, he says that further expansion is most likely. "You know, you don't just stand still—you either go forwards or backwards, and hope it's not backwards!"
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