RALEIGH. — The N.C. Pork Conference held Feb. 6 and 7 featured the presentation of several industry awards, including the induction of W.G. Simmons into the N.C. Pork Council’s (NCPC) Hall of Fame.
The NCPC honored Simmons, 67, for his significant contributions to the state’s pork production industry over many years and his assistance in the progress being made by the NCPC. The announcement was made recently during the 58TH annual N.C. Pork Conference held in Raleigh.
Simmons retired as an agent from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Over his 20 years with the service, he worked closely with farmers making the transition to the now-integrated pork production method, helping their early work with hogs become both sustainable and profitable.
Deborah Johnson, NCPC chief executive officer, commented, “W.G. has helped many of our farmers with the permitting process and particularly with disaster preparation and management. We are proud that he joins our Hall and it is a much deserved honor.”
In other presentations, the 2014 Outstanding Pork Producer award went to the Sauls Family of Warsaw in Duplin County. The family honorees, Jimmy, Betty and their son James, have been farming for more than 30 years, operating four hog finishing houses under contract with Murphy-Brown LLC, along with raising Bermuda grass and rye hay.
The Sauls farm is truly a family enterprise. Jimmyoversees the operation while also serving as a real estate agent and farm appraiser. Mrs. Saulskeeps the books while working as a freelance paralegal. James has farmed most of his life, along with working with the Faison Volunteer Fire Department. All three Sauls family members are heavily involved in community affairs, including service in support of Bowden Community Presbyterian Church.
This year’s choice for the state’s Pork All- American honor is Brandon Warren of Clinton, a partner in the Warren Farming Company in Newton Grove. Along with four other Warren-family partners, Brandon Warren farms 6,500 acres as well as working a 1,000-head cow-calf operation and hog finishing and nursery farms on contract with Murphy-Brown LLC.
Warren, 37 and a member of the NCPC Board of Directors, graduated in 1998 from N.C. State University with a degree in agricultural business management. He has served on the North Carolina Soybean Board and the boards of the North Carolina Cotton Producers Association and the Sampson County Livestock Association.
The selections for Outstanding Pork Producer (for farmers over the age of 40) and Pork All-American (awarded to farmers between the ages of 25 and 40) are based on contributions to the pork industry, family and community through good management and leadership ability. Any farm owner, operator, contract producer, manager or employee involved with the pork industry is eligible for the recognitions.
The Lois G. Britt Service Award was presented to Richard Eason, an Edgecombe County native who spent more than 34 years working for the Farm Credit system where he came in contact with thousands of farmers. Eason is regarded as a leading expert on North Carolina agriculture and a national expert in swine financing.
Eason held many positions in the Farm Credit system, ranging from his first job as a loan officer in training and culminating in his assignment as chief executive officer. He is regarded as an important resource for all segments of the pork production industry, including farmers, production companies and groups like the N.C. Pork Council. Eason now is a Vice-President and Team Leader for Rabo AgriFinance.
The NCPC established the Lois G. Britt Service Award in Lois Britt’s memory to recognize those providing outstanding service to the pork industry and North Carolina agriculture. The officers of the NCPC serve as the nominating and selection committee for this honor.
This year’s Environmental Steward Award was given to Duplin County’s Jeff Spedding, whose farm has been under contract with Murphy-Brown LLC since 1991 for hog finishing, and for sows since 1995.
The Spedding operation uses two, single-cell anaerobic treatment lagoons to store manure prior to land application. The treated manure is used as a fertilizer source for 150 acres of cropland that employs a corn, wheat and soybean rotation.
Water usage is monitored continuously by an eight-person staff. The farm utilizes timers on trough waterers and misters in the sow barns and swinging waterers in the finishing barns to ensure maximum water conservation.
The NCPC Environmental Steward Award is a program to annually recognize a N.C. pork producer who excels in on-farm environmental stewardship. The NCPC Environmental Stewards program is similar to a national program; both the state and national programs focus on manure management, soil conservation, water conservation, wildlife habitat, air quality and public relations.