Friday, April 12, 2024


Growing crops and raising livestock — and then turning those products into food, fiber and other goods — accounts for a major part of North Carolina’s economy. Agriculture and agribusiness had an economic impact of nearly $96 billion in 2021. The industry employs about 789,000 people, and the state’s 45,100 farms operate on about 8.3 million acres.

president | Barnes Farming and Farm Pak

Spring Hope

Barnes Farming started in the early 1960s and now ranks among the largest U.S. sweet potato producers, managing more than 6,000 acres. The Farm Pak was formed in 1969 as sales support for produce grown at the farm.

complex manager | Tyson Foods


Boyles, who has a bachelor’s degree in poultry science from N.C. State University, oversees the 3,000-employee Wilkesboro facility for the giant chicken, beef and pork producer. He serves on the North Carolina Poultry Federation board and was its president in 2020-21.

president | Braswell Family Farms


The fourth-generation president of a family farm established in 1943 has helped the company become the second largest Eggland’s Best franchise in the U.S. An N.C. State University graduate and Nash County native, he started the farm’s organic operation in 2018.

CEO | Quality Equipment


The Scotland Neck native and East Carolina University graduate joined his family’s John Deere tractor dealership, Farmland Tractor, in 1997. The company merged with East Coast Equipment in 2005, then with Quality Equipment in 2018. Quality expanded last year into Wilmington with an acquisition.

co-owner | Peak Farms


Peak Farms started in 1979 and has grown more than 400,000 Christmas trees. Estes’ Fraser firs have won several awards from the National Christmas Tree Association. Peak Farm’s trees have served as the official White House Christmas trees.

president, CEO | House-Autry Mills

Four Oaks

The Kansas State University graduate was named CEO in 2010 after joining the business in 2001. House-Autry Mills is a leading supplier of products that include breading, batters and spices. In 2019, the company expanded into gourmet hot sauces with the acquisition of Captain Foods.

owner | Ham Farms

Snow Hill

The graduate of East Carolina University has led the business since the 1980s, creating one of the largest U.S. sweet potato farming businesses and an exporter to 16 nations. Founded in 1975, the company also produces processed foods, including vegetable and fruit purees.

CEO | N.C. Farm Bureau


In 2019, the N.C. State University graduate and Beaufort County farmer became the 12th president of the state’s largest general farm group. Its insurance subsidiary has annual revenue topping $1 billion. The not-for-profit group is owned by more than 500,000 member families.

president | Syngenta Crop Protection LLC


The Temple University graduate held several key roles within the company since Novartis and AstraZeneca merged to create Syngenta in 2000. ChemChina bought the business for $43 billion in 2017. Syngenta provides seeds, seed treatment, crop protection and traits to growers.

Pre-workday motivation: A hot shower, a hot cup of coffee and all the anticipation of what I will learn and my Syngenta team will accomplish.

Key to industry success: Building and growing strong customer partnerships based on mutual value and joint accountability.

Best advice: Your word is your most valuable influence, so do what you say. Deliver on your promises.

Proud family accomplishment: My family capitalizes on our differences to make us stronger regardless of the highs and lows life brings.

Favorite hobby: I love the outdoors and spend most of my free time enjoying the beauty and sounds of nature, usually in the woods.

Where to entertain a visitor: I love the food at 1618 Seafood Grill on West Friendly. I usually take friends there to experience their Sesame Tuna — amazing, every time.

president | Hog Slat

Newton Grove

Herring leads the business that employs more than 2,000 to make and sell containment equipment and other products for hog and poultry farmers. It has more than 90 retail locations in 8 nations. Under his leadership, Herring’s father, Billy, founded the business in 1969.

CEO | Butterball


The Cornell University graduate leads the largest U.S. turkey producer. Since starting in 2002 as director of research and development, Jandrain has held various roles within the company, which is jointly owned by Goldsboro-based Goldsboro Milling and Merriam, Kan.-based Seaboard.

CEO | N.C. Pork Council


Prior to coming to North Carolina in January 2021, the Oklahoma State University graduate oversaw the Oklahoma Pork Council for more than 20 years.

Pre-workday motivation: I start my day by reading the news and catching up on what I need to know for the day. That allows me to start focusing on any pressing issues or new developments that need my attention.

Key to industry success: The secret ingredient to the success of North Carolina’s pork industry is our people. They are an amazing group of dedicated farmers, pork producers, processors and suppliers who contribute more than $10 billion a year to the N.C. economy. It’s also important for us to listen to our members, those who live in the communities where we operate and policymakers who regulate our industry.

Best advice: When I moved to North Carolina, I was quickly advised to stay neutral in the great debate between eastern and western-style barbecue.

Three people to share a meal: Winston Churchill, George W. Bush and Miguel Angel Jimenez, a professional golfer who has been dubbed the most interesting man in the world. I have no doubt that would be an exhilarating and unforgettable meal.

Proud family accomplishment: My 15-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, absolutely loves other people and goes out of her way to make everyone feel included and a part of whatever is going on.

Favorite hobby: I love to cook and entertain, but I’ll go with golf. One of the best parts of moving to North Carolina is being so close to such a remarkable collection of golf courses.

Where to entertain a visitor: I love taking visitors to lunch at one of North Carolina’s legendary barbecue establishments, followed by a trip to a local craft brewery. If you were visiting right now, we’d probably be trying to decide between Clyde Cooper’s and The Pit for barbecue and then Bond Brothers or Fortnight for a cold beer after dinner.

president | N.C. Pork Council


Lynch, who was raised on a family farm, is an environmental specialist for Maxwell Foods. He joined the pork council’s board in 2018 and became president in 2020. He also raises turkeys and has an agricultural business degree from N.C. State University.

CEO | Murphy Family Ventures

Rose Hill

In 1962, Murphy’s father and grandfather founded a pork production business that merged with Smithfield Foods in 2000. In 2004, Murphy Family Ventures was created to unite the family’s business. The family-owned company includes businesses that manage farms and sell cars, boats and real estate.

president, COO | Case Foods


Phillips, a N.C. State University graduate, has led the poultry producer since 2012. The 3,000-plus employee company, which was founded in 1986 and is owned by Thomas Shelton, was named Burke County’s Business of the Year earlier this year.

founder, CEO | Prestage Farms


In 1967, Prestage started Carroll’s Foods with Ottis Carroll. He founded his pork and turkey production company 15 years later. Prestage expects to complete a new turkey processing plant in Kershaw County, S.C., this year. He’s a member of the halls of fame for the N.C. poultry and pork industries.

vice president, co-owner | Scott Farms


Part of a six-generation Wilson County farm family, the Barton College graduate works alongside his father, Linwood “Sonny” Scott Jr., and brother, Dewey Scott. Scott Farms is among eastern North Carolina’s largest farms, with more than 14,000 acres.

general manager | Vick Family Farms


The Nash County farm got its start with 25 acres in 1975. The N.C. State University graduate’s parents, Jerome and Diane, founded the business, which now encompasses 7,000 acres across three counties with stakes in sweet potatoes, tobacco and cotton.