The North Carolina SweetPotato Commission (NCSPC) hosted its Annual Meeting of Membership in Goldsboro, North Carolina, on Jan. 16. Commission members from across North Carolina gathered at the Maxwell Center to hear the latest updates from marketing and branding, talk about current and future state of the industry, explore the trade show, recognize achievements among peers and elect the 2020 board of directors.
“Our Annual Meeting of Membership gives us the opportunity to bring together commission members—from growers, packer-shippers, processors and more—for a day filled with education, camaraderie and celebration of North Carolina agriculture and, of course, the sweet potato industry,” said Kelly McIver, executive director of the NCSPC. “Our annual gathering was a chance to acknowledge the future of our industry and appreciate the impact our product has had across the state of North Carolina, nationally and internationally.”
The NCSPC announced a $60,000 grant received from the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, which was unveiled with a check presentation during the event. With a goal of “bringing the farm to consumers,” the funding will enable the NCSPC to produce a series of educational videos focusing on the lifecycle of North Carolina sweet potatoes, conduct nutritional testing, work with a registered dietician to generate written educational and nutritional materials and update the NCSPC mascot costume. The commission says funds all will allow it to continue working with ambassadors to spread the word about North Carolina sweet potatoes, highlighting the superfood’s tradition, nutrition, versatility and convenience.
“Our state has a long, rich history as a world leader in sweet potato production, and we want to support those farmers, many of whom have a strong connection to our tobacco heritage,” said William H. “Bill” Teague, chairman of the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. “This grant will help deliver crucial marketing messages on the healthy aspects of North Carolina sweet potatoes to school children, consumers and nutritionists.”
Additionally, Larry Wooten, former president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau, received the Distinguished Service Award, which the NCSPC says recognizes a member in good standing who through hard work, selfless dedication and distinguished service has served the state’s sweet potato industry. A native of Pender County, Wooten joined the North Carolina Farm Bureau in March of 1994, holding a number of roles throughout his tenure, including president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, the North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance Cos. and all affiliated corporations until his retirement in December 2019. Wooten currently sits on the board of the American Farm Bureau Federation and serves as a board member of the Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. The NCSPC says he works tirelessly to advance initiatives that strengthen and improve North Carolina’s rural communities and is a strong advocate of people giving back to the organizations, the communities and the state that have provided them with opportunities for growth and advancement.
At the annual meeting, the NCSPC also voted to maintain its current board of directors, which includes:
- Brent Leggett of Leggett Farming Partnership in Nashville, North Carolina (President)
- Rob Hill of Tull Hill Farms in Kinston, North Carolina (Vice President)
- Kim K. LeQuire of Kornegay Family Farms and Produce in Princeton, North Carolina (Secretary-Treasurer)
- Johnny Barnes, Barnes Farming Corp., Spring Hope, North Carolina
- Clay Gardner, CEG Farms Inc., Angier, North Carolina
- Frank Howell, Howell Farming Co. Inc., Goldsboro, North Carolina
- Jim Jones, Jones Family Farms, Bailey, North Carolina
- Dewey Scott, Scott Farms, Lucama, North Carolina
- Scott Sullivan, Sullivan Farms Inc., Lucama, North Carolina
- Lynwood Vick, Vick Family Farms, Wilson, North Carolina
- Craig West, West Family Farms Partnership, Fremont, North Carolina
- Michael Wood, J Roland Wood Farms, Benson, North Carolina
Headquartered in the No. 1 sweet potato producing state in the United States, the NCSPC is made up of sweet potato growers, packers, processors and business associates that support them. The nonprofit corporation was founded in 1961.