James E. Brady, Jr.
Brady, whose father was a dairy farmer, was born and raised in Perry County, Alabama. After high school, Brady attended API but after a year became consumed with the vision of becoming a pilot and flying. This vision led Brady to enlist in the Air Force where he served for four years. When he returned to Alabama in 1958, Brady married his sweetheart, Catherine Smith, and helped his father operate the dairy farm. He resumed his studies, attending Marion Institute and later transferred to API. After graduating in 1961 with a degree in agronomy and soils, Brady returned home to the 180- acre family farm and partnered with his father. In 1972, the Bradys incorporated to become Ioka Farm, Inc. Brady acquired additional land and constructed a new California-style milking parlor. This facility, the first of its kind in Alabama, increased milking capacity to 70 cows per hour. The original herd of seven dairy cows eventually grew to 250 registered Holstein cows.
In the early 1980s, after carefully evaluating alternative enterprises and potential returns, Brady decided to downgrade the dairy farming and transition into catfish production. In 1992, Brady made further changes by eliminating his dairy enterprise and replacing it with beef cattle.
Even as he oversaw the operation of a successful farm, Brady still felt the importance of finding an outlet for community and industry service. In the 1960s, he was elected chairman of the Alabama Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and went on to become chairman at the national level, a position that allowed him the opportunity to sit on the American Farm Bureau Board.
A production-minded man, Brady has always been aware of equity, assets and returns. Realizing there was only one bank in his community, Brady helped organize and charter an additional bank, thus providing farmers and the community with competitive loan rates and better financing. This same fiscal responsibility gave him the opportunity to serve with the Central Alabama Farm Analysis Association where he is a charter member and past president. He served as president of the Statewide Alabama Farm Analysis Association for three years.
Brady has received numerous awards from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in recognition of his contributions to educational and economic development programs. He was named the Outstanding Young Farmer by both the Alabama Jaycees and the Alabama Farmers Federation. In 2004, Brady earned the distinction of Master Farm Manager from the Alabama Farm Analysis Association and was recognized as the top farm in the state by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Farm Analysis Program. In addition, Brady served on the Gold Kist board of directors for 18 years, two of which he served as vice chairman. In 2003, Gold Kist made a donation in Brady’s honor for the renovation of a conference room in the AU College of Agriculture’s Comer Hall. The room has been dedicated as the Jim Brady Conference Room.
Brady’s leadership and contributions to the College of Agriculture have been tremendous. He is a charter member of the Agricultural Alumni Association and is co-chair of the College’s “It Begins at Auburn” fundraising campaign committee.
Brady credits his accomplishments and ability to juggle so many different enterprises to his wife, who he says has been a tremendous support, and to his employees. His philosophy there is to hire good people and pay them more than anyone else so they will stay with him.
Brady and wife Catherine have two children–Renee and Brad–and four grandchildren.