Wednesday, February 21, 2024


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.


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. First job: I picked up drink bottles on the farm. I bought my girlfriend a necklace with the $14 I earned. Proud family accomplishment: Our kids. They all graduated college and have successful careers. Most important, they’re good people. Person you admire: Mayo Boddie. He and his brother, Nick, put people first. That’s why [Rocky-Mount-based] Boddie-Noell has been so successful. Favorite recent book: Enjoy the Ride by Steve Gilliland


complex manager | Tyson Foods


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.


president | Braswell Family Farms


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.


CEO | Quality Equipment


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.


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.


CEO | N.C. Farm Bureau


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.


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.


CEO | Butterball


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.


CEO | N.C. Pork Council


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.


president | N.C. Pork Council


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.


chairman | Goldsboro Milling


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.


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.


CEO | Neese Sausage


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.


president | Case Farms


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.


CEO | Prestage Farms


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.


vice president | Scott Farms


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. First job: Farming Employer’s distinction: We strive to be innovative and expansive in our thinking and approach to not only business but life in general. As a family operation, we understand the need for cooperation in our business and community. Through innovation, we are able to provide a better and safer workplace and work/life balance for our staff and be good neighbors to the community. Proud family accomplishment: We are family-owned and -operated. There are three generations working together today in various capacities. One of the things I am proudest of is our ability to work together on the farm, offer an opportunity for all members to be included or have the freedom to pursue areas of other interest or opportunities outside our business. Favorite passion: Time spent with family and members of the community coaching youth sports through volunteer work with Wilson Christian Academy and other organizations. Working with other organizations and boards to encourage growth and stability in the community. When not coaching a team at Wilson Christian Academy, I enjoy spending time with my son. Person you admire: My mom and dad (Alice and Sonny Scott). Through the tough times, they never wavered in their dedication and determination to our family, the farm, employees, and community. Their tireless efforts and guidance have set the standard that our family and business follows to this day. Decision you would change: I would have finished college. Being a bit older and wiser, I think the experience of college would have given me a different perspective and more and different relationships. Something surprising: I am an avid runner. Running five to six miles per week allows time to think and reflect. There is a freedom to be in your own thoughts and find solutions to different situations. Being able to run and have that time to reflect is great to me.


general manager | Vick Family Farms


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.