Here’s the kicker…it does.
Georgia might be known as the peach state (and they have a lot of them), but when it comes to production, Titan Farms in Ridge Spring, SC sets the pace. With over 6,200 acres of peach trees in the ground, Titan Farms is the largest peach producer on the East Coast and the second largest in the nation. Our VALOR group had the chance to visit on our national trip last month.
Chalmers and Lori Carr have built an empire. While they oversee every aspect of the business (including large broccoli and bell pepper crops), other family members and long-term employees help create a genuine family atmosphere with plenty of southern charm. We appreciate the hospitality and everyone who helped host us.
The three main folks we interacted with on the tour were Mr. Jason Rogers (VP of Operations), Mr. Ross Williams (Director of Packaging Operations & Food Safety), and Ms. Hillary Barrow (Executive Assistant and Office Manager).
After brief introductions, we started the tour out in the fields looking at broccoli plants and peach trees. Jason talked to us about some of the research they are doing in conjunction with Clemson University and taught us about the diseases they have to look out for at different stages of tree growth. Untimely freezes and hurricanes are two other major risks they have to deal with. Without crop insurance, it would be difficult for them and other farmers to be in business. It is a necessary protection especially for peaches that are more sensitive to weather changes.
Another issue we discussed in-depth was labor and immigration. Peach harvest is labor intensive, and Titan Farms has difficulty finding the labor they need locally. Out of roughly 850 job postings that they advertised for they only received 3 applications. Titan Farms relies heavily on the H-2A temporary worker program that provides each worker with a passport and visa to work at Titan Farms. They prioritize their workers and their needs and thanks to that have a 98% return rate among those workers each year. Chalmers has led the charge on Capitol Hill to advocate for needed, commonsense changes to the H-2A program to make it work more effectively for the agriculture community and everyone involved.
From the field, we went back to their main facility where we got to see how the peaches are sorted, boxed and prepared for shipment. Titan Farms typically harvests, packs and ships their peaches within 24-48 hours to ensure freshness. Through the barcodes on each box Titan Farms is able to trace the peaches all the way back to the field where they were harvested. This allows them to quickly identify the peaches that might be affected if there is ever any type of issue. In 2016, Palmetto Processing Solutions was formed and began processing the farm’s peaches in frozen slices, dices and puree in a greenfield facility alongside a new fresh packhouse.
Needless to say, their operation is extremely impressive. It was a tremendous way to start our tour of South Carolina and Georgia. They were kind enough to send us with some peaches that made the rest of our trip all the more enjoyable. I encourage you to check out their website to learn more about who they are and what they do: http://titanfarms.com. A big thank you to Titan Farms for a great stop!
The rest of our trip was fantastic! We had so many good stops that other VALOR fellows will be describing. Yon Family Farms (also in Ridge Spring, SC) was one of my favorite places. They run a seedstock Angus bull operation. They are very intentional in how they go about their business and family focused. Visiting with them reminded me a lot of the time I spent working at the R.A. Brown Ranch. Another visit that stood out to me was 920 Cattle & Company in Statesboro, GA. Jarrod and Becca Creasy run a registered seedstock operation, custom meat and butcher business, a fencing business and a custom baling operation. They have so much going on that I’m not sure how they keep it all straight. You couldn’t find two nicer people.
Thank you for all the nice messages after law school graduation. It means a lot. The bar is July 30-31 so it will be nice to have that knocked out. I am excited to share that I have been admitted into the University of Arkansas’ Ag Law LLM program. I am staying in VA/DC and will be completing that program on a part-time online basis starting in August. I’m really excited about how that relates to VALOR, my current job and future plans. Who knows, teaching Ag law down the road could be fun 😉