More than 30 young tobacco farmers and ag leaders from North Carolina jumped at the chance recently to attend a short course on learning more about tobacco production.
“Since our industry continues to face continuous change, we need to make sure our younger farmers are able to focus on how to attain efficient, quality tobacco production,” said Bill Collins, the coordinator of the short-course program and a retired North Carolina State University Extension tobacco specialist.
The tobacco short course was held in Raleigh, N.C. During the week, participants took part in workshops and other events aimed at helping them better understand all facets of tobacco production and marketing.
One day of the short course included a field trip to Wilmington, N.C. to tour the North Carolina State Ports Authority and the plant that manufactures sucker control products for Fair Products, Inc. The group also stopped at the farm of Tony Jones, another young tobacco grower who farms in the counties of Wayne, Sampson and Duplin.
Because of his need for additional bulk-curing barns this season, Jones is constructing bulk barns on his farm. He is the husband of Kristal Jones, one of the short-course participants. In addition to helping with the accounting function on the farm, Kristal Jones manages the couple’s agribusiness operation, Smith Chapel Supply & Ag Services Inc., in Mount Olive, N.C.
The program was conducted by the North Carolina Tobacco Foundation in partnership with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University. Also, the program received a grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. Program instructors included NCSU Extension specialists focused on agronomy, plant pathology, agricultural engineering and agricultural economics.
Some 21 tobacco farmers, who are collectively growing more than 6,000 acres in 2013, participated in the program.
Five employees from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also participated.