Bladen County, North Carolina
Billy Augustine is the owner/operator of Pretty Boy Farms in Bladen County, North Carolina.
Billy, a second-generation farmer, is the fourth generation to work in the produce industry.
Continuing the family legacy
Billy’s father started farming blueberries in the 1980s in New Jersey, on roughly 250 acres. About 15 years after he got his start, his dad expanded the operation into North Carolina, where the family grows over 1,000 acres of blueberries.
In recent years, Billy decided to venture out on his own, following in his dad’s footsteps, and started an operation of his own: Pretty Boy Farms. Billy built over 30 high tunnels, or hoophouses, on land in New Jersey, where he grows year-round, producing tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables.
A challenging occupation
Stepping into agriculture full-time has not been without challenges. As a produce farmer, he has seen an increase in requirements, especially related to food safety, in recent years.
“It's all great stuff,” he said. “But it costs money. And at the end of the day, it depletes the small margins that we’re making.”
Billy turns to the public, to his community, for support. “We need the general public to do what they can to support us, buy local, buy regional, demand American,” Billy said. “Be a voice to help us, because it's a struggling time right now.”
Farm Credit, a trusted partner
Beyond asking the public for their support, Billy knows he can always turn to his partners at Cape Fear Farm Credit for help.
“I chose Farm Credit because of the excellent service they provide,” Billy said. “I've gone to them with ideas and plans, and they've sat down with me and given me the full support, knowledge and resources that I needed to make things happen.”
For Billy, working with Farm Credit has been more than just a business transaction, it’s truly felt like a partnership. “Everybody in the company that I've met have been excellent people,” he said. “They've gone above and beyond to make me feel at home and make my family feel at home through their loan services and the special programs that they offer.”
Not to mention the patronage checks; Billy has found these checks to be very helpful in sustaining his business. “Patronage is something to look forward to every year, that we can use to help out our operations and put money back into our company, back into our farm.”
A devoted farmer for life
Despite the hardships that Billy has faced as a young farmer, he’s dedicated to the job and the lifestyle because of what it means for the world. “It's a challenging occupation. Sometimes you wonder why you're doing it,” he said. “But I feel that farming is a noble trade; we are keeping the population alive every day.”