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Producing Excellence

Orlando Cadena

Alice, TX

Products: Cotton, grain sorghum and sunflowers

Size of Operation: 5,000 acres

In Business Since: 1999

Farm Credit Partner: Texas Farm Credit Services

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2009

Learn more about Orlando Cadena and Farm Credit on YouTube

Growing up on a dairy and grain farm, Orlando Cadena has known what it’s like to work hard as a farmer since he could first carry two five-gallon buckets full of feed. “I grew up driving tractors, and that’s really all I wanted to do. It’s in my blood,” he says. The strong work ethic he learned is still obvious today as Orlando farms five thousand acres across two counties near Corpus Christi.

Orlando’s road to becoming a farmer took an indirect route: after high school, he joined the United States Army where he served in seven countries, including in Albania during the Bosnian conflict in the mid-1990s. After four years of service, he returned to South Texas in 1996 and became a firefighter, and later a police officer at the Corpus Christi International Airport. At the same time, though, he started helping his father again and then, starting with 250 acres, began farming on his own.

Not comfortable farming on a small scale because of the impact that equipment failures and other obstacles had on his efficiency, Orlando slowly started expanding his farming operation. “Every little breakdown can really hurt you,” he says. “If the tractor breaks down or you have a bad engine, it is just all magnified because you don’t have the leeway. There’s no backup.”

By 2006 he had expanded to 2,000 acres. “Those acres were the hardest to get, but my farming operation really began to grow after I got them,” he says. “You need to have the acreage to get the equipment, and you can’t have the equipment without the acreage.”

With a decade of growing pains behind him and solid acreage under his feet, Orlando realized it was time to become serious about developing his operation. Referred by his commercial bank to Texas AgFinance, he was able to take advantage of its Young, Beginning and Small (YBS) Farmer program. By buying out a farmer in a neighboring county, he more than doubled the size of his operation. “With the help of Texas AgFinance, I was able to really grow my farming operation and take on a substantial amount of acreage,” Orlando says.

Since adding the acres to his operation, Orlando has been able to achieve another milestone — becoming a full-time farmer. “We farm better,” he says. “We farm better because we can make better decisions because we are there more. It’s more beneficial for everyone for me to be there.”

Today, his diversified operation includes cotton, grain sorghum and sunflowers. “We’ve done a lot of physical work and are finally reaping the benefits. I’m still the guy on the tractor, and I don’t ever want to get to the point that I’m not.”

Photo by Eddie Seal

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