Researchers at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University use a drone to capture data from plants, Raleigh

Agriculture

Agriculture and agribusiness, including food, forestry and fiber, are two of North Carolina’s largest industries with an economic impact of nearly $93 billion in 2020. The industry accounts for about 18% of the state’s employment base. The state’s 46,000 farms cover 84 million acres.

JOHNNY BARNES

president | Barnes Farming and Farm Pak

Spring Hope

Since Barnes Farming started in the 1960s, Barnes, 56, has seen the family business become a leading U.S. sweet potato grower. It operates in seven counties along Interstate 95.

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ANDREW BOYLES

complex manager | Tyson Foods

Wilkesboro

Boyles is responsible for approximately 3,000 employees at the Tyson Foods facility in Wilkesboro. He’s president of the North Carolina Poultry Federation board for the 2020-21 term. He has a bachelor’s in poultry science from N.C. State University.

TREY BRASWELL III

president | Braswell Family Farms

Nashville

Braswell is the fourth-generation president of his family farm. The N.C. State graduate started the farm’s organic operation in 2018. Amid the pandemic, Braswell Farms has donated thousands of eggs to local food pantries. It’s the second largest U.S. Eggland’s Best producer.

BRYAN DOBSON

CEO | Quality Equipment

Fuquay-Varina

A graduate of East Carolina University, Dobson has been working for the John Deere tractor dealership since joining his family business, Farmland Tractor, in 1997. It later merged with East Coast Equipment, then with Quality Equipment in 2018. In February, the company opened a location in Pittsboro.

BOBBY HAM

owner | Ham Farms

Snow Hill

Ham, who has led Ham Farms since the 1980s, is a graduate of East Carolina University. He helped establish one of the biggest U.S. sweet potato farming businesses. In the past five years, the company has started producing processed foods including vegetable and fruit purees.

SHAWN HARDING

CEO | N.C. Farm Bureau

Raleigh

Harding was elected the 12th president of the N.C. Farm Bureau in 2019, succeeding longtime chief Larry Wooten. It operates a property-casualty insurance company with annual revenue topping $1 billion. An N.C, State University graduate, he works at his Southside Farms in Chocowinity. 

TOMMY HERRING

president | Hog Slat

Newton Grove

Hog Slat, a manufacturer of equipment used by hog farmers, has more than 1,000 employees at plants in the U.S. and several other countries and more than 80 retail stores. The business founded by Herring’s father, Billy, in 1969 also breeds hogs.

JAY JANDRAIN

CEO | Butterball

Garner

Jandrain is responsible for business strategy at Butterball, the largest turkey producer in the nation. The Cornell University graduate joined the company as director of research and development in 2002. The business is jointly owned by Goldsboro-based Goldsboro Milling and Merriam, Kan.-based Seaboard Corp.

ROY LEE LINDSEY

CEO | N.C. Pork Council

Raleigh

Lindsey became CEO of the trade association in January after serving 20 years with the Oklahoma Pork Council. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oklahoma State University. The council was formed in 1962. North Carolina ranks among the five largest pork production states.

JIM LYNCH

president | N.C. Pork Council

Goldsboro

Lynch was first elected to the trade group in 2018 to serve on the board at large before serving as vice president and then president in 2020. The North Carolina State University alum was raised on a family farm in Wayne County.

H.G. MAXWELL III

chairman | Goldsboro Milling

Goldsboro

The Maxwells have long ranked among the state’s biggest farm families. They are closing their Maxwell Foods hog operations after 31 years, citing low pork prices. About 150 contract farms were affected. Maxwell is a graduate and former trustee at Campbell University. Goldsboro owns half of the Butterball turkey brand.

WENDELL “DELL” MURPHY JR.

CEO | Murphy Family Ventures

Rose Hill

Murphy Family Ventures began as a small farm founded by his father, Wendell Murphy Sr., and grandfather, Holmes Murphy, in 1962. It became a leading U.S. pork producer before merging with Smithfield Foods in 2000. The business operates in several different industries, employing 1,000 people. Murphy’s wife, Wendy, is vice chair of the UNC System Board of Governors.

TOMMY NEESE

CEO | Neese Sausage

Greensboro

Neese is the fourth generation of his family to run their sausage business, which started more than 100 years ago.The Elon University graduate also serves as an industry representative for the N.C. Pork Council and as vice president of N.C. Meat Processors Association.

KEVIN PHILLIPS

president | Case Farms

Troutman

Phillips has led the poultry producer in his current post since 2012. The company employs more than 3,000 at plants and feed mills in North Carolina and Ohio, where Thomas Shelton founded the business in 1986. 

BILL PRESTAGE

CEO | Prestage Farms

Clinton

Prestage, 85, has been in the farm business since 1967 when starting Carroll’s Foods with Ottis Carroll. He founded Prestage Farms in 1982. The pork and turkey producer now employs more than 2,000 and has contracts with more than 450 farm families.

LINWOOD H. SCOTT III

vice president | Scott Farms

Lucama

Linwood, 51, attended Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College, before returning to his family’s farm. Since then he’s worked his way up to vice president and co-owner alongside his father, Linwood “Sonny” Scott Jr., and brother, Dewey Scott. 

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LINWOOD VICK

general manager | Vick Family Farms

Wilson

Vick Family Farms began in 1975 with 25 acres. It now tops 7,000 across Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe counties. Vick, a graduate of N.C. State Agriculture Institute in 1997, has seen the farm expand to include tobacco, sweet potatoes, cotton, soybeans, wheat and corn.

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