Connections 2017

Goldsboro News Argus - Progress Edition

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14 AGRICULTURE & BUSINESS Maintain- ing a suc- cessful farm in this economic climate requires diversifica- tion. Ryan Roberson loads bales of hay onto a semi- truck at the Overman farm in Grantham. H arrell Overman remembers the days when his father tended crops and raised hogs on the fami- ly farm in the Grantham community. Farming was different then, when farmers worked more independ- ently and built family legacies that passed from one gener- ation to the next. Times have changed for the indus- try, with many farmers diversifying operations into a mix of crops and contracted animal growing opera- tions for large corporations. The Overmans entered the con- tract growing market in 2007, which offered more financial stability, Over- man said. Overman Farms includes nearly 4,500 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat crops, as well as a contracted sow farm of 2,000 pigs and a finish- ing farm of 7,500 hogs. The sow farm, where pigs are born and raised to about 10 pounds, and finishing farm, where hogs grow from 35 to 300 pounds for market, are contracted operations with the Goldsboro Milling Co. "Diversification is very important," said Overman, a sixth generation farmer. "If you have something that goes bad in one area, you've got some- thing else that will, hopefully, be OK." Farming has been in the Overman family dating back to the 1760s in the Grantham community. Overman's father, David John Overman, used to be an independent hog farmer for more than 50 years before the family con- tracted with Goldsboro Milling, in 2007. The amount of acres for row crops has remained consistent, and more recently, the family added about 60 cows and hay to the crop mix. "It's been a lifetime of trying to build what we have," Overman said. "It's a challenge. There's so much risk every year. "For the longterm, people have got to eat. Farming's always been cycli- cal. It's always had its ups and downs." Overman's son-in-law, Ryan Roberson, works on the family farm, ensuring that Overman Farms will be passed on to a sev- enth generation. Ryan and Betsy Roberson, his daughter, have two children, Wade and Logan, who could one day carry on the family legacy as eighth generation farmers. "It's our hope to take the right steps so that this farm can keep up with everything that's going to get thrown at it in the coming years," Mrs. Roberson said. "We feel very thankful that we have an opportunity to do some- thing that we both enjoy." Entering the contract growing market relieved some of the finan- cial burden of costly medicines and the lack of access to a veterinari- an, said Lorenda Overman, his wife. "Before 2007, we were independ- ent growers, so we owned the pigs and we sold them ourselves," Mrs. Overman said. "Now, Goldsboro Milling, technically, owns the pigs, and we own the buildings. "It was more economically feasi- ble to switch." Overman said the change was positive and reduced some of the risk of operating independently. But farming still has its unex- pected challenges, including sick- ness that can wipe out an animal farm or a natural disaster that can ruin the crops. Sometimes, it can be one or the See FARMS, Page 15 The Overman family entered into the contract growing market in 2007. Overman Farms includes nearly 4,500 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat crops as well as contracting a sow farm and hog farm. Story by ROCHELLE MOORE Photos by SETH COMBS Future of agriculture: 4-H and Future Farmers of America help usher in a new era of an agriculture- geared generation. Manufacturing: Uchiyama employees 300, Wayne County manufacturing industry is shifting to agriculture. National success: Mt. Olive Pickle Co. was established 90 years ago, and today its products are No. 1 in the United States. Contracts keep families farming

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