There have been plenty of challenges over the last year and a half, but Wayne County’s agriculture industry continues to find ways to thrive.
The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Agriculture Luncheon on Monday at The Maxwell Center.
Chamber President Kate Daniels says the community must ensure it is working alongside the county’s largest economic engine.
Daniels says the mission of the Chamber’s Agricultural Affairs Committee is to increase agricultural literacy, support the ag community, and encourage urban-rural cooperation in Wayne County.
Wayne County Cooperative Extension Director Kevin Johnson says COVID-19 is still impacting the farming community.
According to Johnson, other challenges have included labor, transportation, rising input prices, and supply chain problems.
Kim Kornegay Lequire, the Vice President of Kornegay Family Produce, was one of this year’s ag panelists, and she talked about their use of H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers who are grateful to have to opportunity to earn money working in the U.S. for short periods of time.
Brad West, the Co-owner of West Family Farms, was one of this year’s panelists, and he says they continue to strive to keep their workers healthy during the pandemic.
The Chamber also presented its Ag Advocate of the Year and the Ag Producer of the Year at Monday’s luncheon.
The 2021 Ag Advocate of the Year is Dr. Sandy Maddox, Founding Dean of the University of Mount Olive’s School of Agricultural and Biological Sciences.
The 2021 Ag Producer of the Year is Bennie Barwick Family Farms.
Agriculture remains the top industry in Wayne County, providing almost 9,000 jobs and $1 billion to the local economy.