Cotton farmers from California, Arizona, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi gained a first-hand look at Virginia and North Carolina farm country as part of the National Cotton Council’s Producer Information Exchange or PIE tour.
The nine farmers that visited Virginia and North Carolina farmers in the PIE tour were Michael McManus of Shafter, Calif; Rico Clonts of Safford, Ariz.; Scott Vardeman and Kyle Vaughn, both of Lubbock, Texas; Clark Dillard of Forrest City, Ark.; Vonda Kirkpatrick of Tillar, Ark.; Parker Adcock of Holly Bluff, Miss.; Andrew Berryhill of Tutwiler, Miss. and Tyler Clay of Yazoo City. Miss.
The PIE tour ran from Aug. 11 to Aug. 15. PIE is sponsored by Bayer through a grant to The Cotton Foundation. It is now in its 31st year and has exposed nearly 1,200 U.S. cotton producers to innovative production practices in Cotton Belt regions different than their own.
The group toured the Amadas Industries peanut equipment plant in Suffolk, Va. and visited the Severn Peanut Company in Severn, N.C. The bulk of their time was spent touring North Carolina farms, Bayer’s breeding facility in Mount Olive, Cotton Incorporated’s world headquarters in Cary and Frontier Spinning Company in Sanford.
They visited the Hyde County farm of Eric Cahoon, himself a participant in a previous PIE tour, where they learned more about the challenges of salt water intrusion on farmland, a problem unique to Hyde County. They visited the Kent Smith Farm in Rocky Mount, Alligator River Farms in Engelhard, 3-B Farms in Pinetown and J.P. Davenport and Son Farms in Pactolus.
The tour gives farmers a chance to learn about the challenges in a different region of the country than their own. A unique program benefit is that the participants get to ask questions of both the producers they visit on the tours and the producers from their own region who they travel with during the week.