In November, my VALOR classmates and I had the great experience of exploring agriculture in the Tidewater and Eastern Shore region of Virginia. It was exciting to learn more about this region’s impressive contribution of produce, equipment and leadership to the global agricultural marketplace. In addition to learning about the region, we learned more about ourselves, our leadership styles, and the need to understand and appreciate the different agricultural issues impacting various areas of the Commonwealth. However, in my opinion, the overall or primary theme that seemed to be woven throughout this session was “embracing the future of agriculture”.
We began our exploration of this region with a tour of Amadas Industries in Suffolk. At Amadas, we learned about the company’s commitment to developing a “new generation” of peanut harvesting and processing machinery. The company produces equipment that is used throughout the world and is changing the way crops are harvested. The focus of this company was solidly on the future of agriculture.
Another extremely impressive experience and a highlight of this VALOR session was a visit to Lakeland High School. There we were hosted by Ag Teacher Ron Daughtrey and an outstanding group of Ag students/FFA members. We were treated to a great dinner prepared by the Daughtrey family and served by the students. During dinner, we had the opportunity to meet these students and learn more about their hobbies, interests and commitment to agriculture. It was inspiring to listen to the accomplishments and aspirations of these smart and talented students. More importantly, these students seemed excited and well prepared to embrace the future of farming.
We had the great opportunity to tour Rogers Farm and spend invaluable time with Mr. Paul Rogers, Jr. Mr. Rogers is the President of Rogers Farm. Rogers Farm is a diversified farming operation producing peanuts, soybeans, corn and more. There I was able to personally learn more about the operation and functioning of a corn combine harvester—very exciting.
Additionally, during this stop, we met with Matthew Brantley, a Precision Ag Specialist with James River Equipment. Mr. Brantley provided a demonstration of the Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment that can provide guidance, yield mapping and controlled application of seed and fertilizer to farm equipment.
Later that evening, we had a spectacular dinner prepared by Mrs. Rogers and others. At dinner, we were able to network with Mr. Rogers and several local farmers committed to agriculture. During his remarks to the VALOR class, Mr. Rogers made a very insightful and impactful comment. Mr. Rogers stated, “The future of farming will belong to those who can embrace the new technology that is changing the way we do things today”. This profound comment seemed to highlight and summarize the lessons learned during session II of our VALOR journey.