Bodden claims top farmer prize

Paul Bodden captured the 2012 Minister’s Award for Most Outstanding Farmer at the 45th Agriculture Society Awards recently held at the Stacy Watler Pavilion in Lower Valley in Grand Cayman.  

Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, the deputy premier of the Cayman Islands and the minister responsible for Agriculture, congratulated Mr. Bodden on his award.  

“Paul is not only a successful farmer and livestock producer, but he is a progressive, community-minded leader who is committed to creating a brighter future for our Islands,” Ms O’Connor-Connolly said. “These awards are a great opportunity to recognise the farmers that make our islands agriculture so special. 

“Paul is one of many livestock farmers in Cayman Islands who do a great job caring for their animals and the land while also serving our community. He is always interested in finding new solutions to make his cattle more efficient and improve the quality of his beef.”  

Mr. Bodden also garnered four other awards, namely Livestock Farmer of the Year – Grand Cayman; Champion Exhibitor – Livestock Farmer, Best Sow; Champion Exhibitor – Cattle and Champion Exhibitor – Pigs (second place).  

Mr. Bodden is a fourth-generation farmer whose father, Wil Bodden, carried him in a basket to the farm where he now lives. Mr. Bodden did chores by milking cows, selling the milk and even making cheese. He never found the tasks to be burdensome. 

“I am just a humble old cowboy who is grateful for the awards because this helps to inspire and motivate me to continue,” Mr. Bodden said. “The most relaxing time of my life is when I am on the farm. I can be full of red mold and cow dung and I am relaxed. Hard work is second nature to me.”  

His 12-acre farm, Old Brown Ranch, is located in Lower Valley and focuses on livestock farming, mainly cattle and pigs. He employs four full-time workers and has 160 cows and 80 pigs. His goal is to increase these numbers by 2014 so that he is able to slaughter 260 cows and 260 pigs each year. At the moment, Old Brown Ranch slaughters on average one to two cows and pigs per week.  

“I know where I am coming from and where I am going. One of my main goals, along with some of the other livestock farmers, is to improve local beef. Beef should be tender and I am experimenting with different breeds of cow to ensure that happens. These cows shouldn’t have horns, shouldn’t be running about the field and shouldn’t be too old before going to slaughter.”  

Mr. Bodden sells his beef to local supermarkets. Based on current trends in local farming, he is confident about future growth.  

“I never dreamt that we would have reached this level so quickly,” he said, while noting the Department of Agriculture’s abattoir has made life easier for farmers. 

But believe it or not, farming is not the way Mr. Bodden earns his livelihood. For more than 40 years, he operated his own heavy equipment and aggregate business – Paul A. Bodden Heavy Equipment – with his two sons, Andy and John Bodden. However, during the past few years, he has come to view farming as a business rather than a hobby.  

“I have invested millions of dollars over the years,” he said. “Now that I am nearing retirement, it has become more important to keep records. After all, I don’t want to be a broke retiree. You have to keep records to know what is happening.” 

Jane and Paul Bodden

Jane and Paul Bodden, seated, are surrounded by family members and agriculture show awards.

Paul Bodden farming Cayman Islands

Paul Bodden recently gave Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly a tour of his farm. – PHOTOS: SUBMITTED