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North Carolina’s Danny Kornegay named 2015 Southeast Farmer of Year

Danny Kornegay gives acceptance speech after being named overall winner of the 2015 Swisher SweetsSunbelt Expo Southeast Farmer of the Year during the Willie B Withers Sunbelt Ag Expo Luncheon Oct 20 the first day of this yearrsquos Sunbelt Ag Expo
<p>Danny <span data-scayt-lang="en_US" data-scayt-word="Kornegay">Kornegay</span> gives acceptance speech after being named overall winner of the 2015 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeast Farmer of the Year during the Willie B. Withers Sunbelt Ag Expo Luncheon Oct. 20, the first day of this year&rsquo;s Sunbelt Ag Expo.</p>
Diversified North Carolina farmer Danny Kornegay named 2015 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeast Farmer of the Year at Sunbelt Ag Expo Oct. 20.

Diversified North Carolina farmer Danny Kornegay was named the 2015 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeast Farmer of the Year during the opening day of the Sunbelt Ag Expo Oct. 20.

“I would like to thank the Lord first for giving me the opportunity to farm and do the things I enjoy and it is a great honor (to be given this award). … Farming is all I’ve ever done and all I’ve ever wanted to do,” said Kornegay, during his acceptance speech at the Willie B. Withers Sunbelt Ag Expo Luncheon.

His wife, Susie, stood next to him. The award, he said, goes to his whole family. “I have my family here, and they make a pretty good fan base. Got my family here, local Extension Service, too, and Farm Bureau, and I even got my banker here, who said I was too much of a risk to travel by myself to come here,” said Kornegay, who began farming after high school full time with 25 acres and with the help of his father.

Kornegay said, no, at first when North Carolina Farm Bureau’s Milo Lewis asked him to be a nominee for the 2015 North Carolina farmer of the year. Kornegay’s daughter, Kim, told him to say, yes. He still said no, “but here I am,” Kornegay joked.

He works about 5,500 acres near Princeton, NC, and grows tobacco, sweet potatoes, cotton, soybeans, wheat, peanuts and raises hogs.

Ron Carroll, marketing vice president with Swisher, said the farming profession has many successful producers, and that Kornegay and his hardworking family are highly deserving of the award.

“I enjoyed visiting Danny’s farm and the farms of the other nine state winners,” said Carroll. “Accompanying the judges on their trip to these farms made it clear to me that our country’s agricultural industry is indeed in capable hands.”

In recent years, Kornegay has installed a packing facility and began direct marketing more than 800 acres of sweet potatoes, which is becoming a major crop in North Carolina. Kornegay and other local farmers built a modern cotton gin and warehouse to help in marketing that crop. Peanuts are a fairly new crop for the farm, and this year he doubled his peanut acres. He has also explored diversification into other crops such as squash, greens and watermelons.

The family swine operation focuses on finishing about 8,000 to 10,000 head per year in four hog houses on contract for Goldsboro Milling Company. 

Kornegay has had some serious health problems, including long months of kidney dialysis and surgeries for kidney transplants.

(Sunbelt Ag Expo contributed to this article.)

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