Joined by NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest

North Carolina sweet potato grower-shipper hosts Sonny Perdue

Scott Farms International’s Sonny and Alice Scott hosted US Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, and NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest for a farm tour and discussion of the importance of technology and a stable on-farm work force. 

The Scott family operates one of the most technologically advanced sweet potato operations in the world which employs many automated processes throughout the operation. “It takes a lot of quality people to run our operation”, Scott Farms President Sonny Scott said. “When you look at farming today, technology plays a much bigger role than ever before and we have to have a quality workforce from beginning to end.” 

Scott Family with NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest (Far Left), US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (Center), NC Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler (Far Right)

In 2015, Scott Farms began its journey into farm automation with the construction of a 60,000-sq. ft. packing and grading facility for sweet potatoes. In the two and a half years since the opening of the new facility, an 80,000-sq. ft. environmentally controlled curing and storage facility has also been constructed increasing the on-farm storage capacity by an additional 600,000 bushels. “Technology is a necessity in today’s marketplace”, Dewey Scott, vice president for sweet potato operations said. “We have tried to stay on the front side of technology in our operation. As we continue to grow, our need for qualified individuals to operate that technology only increases.”

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Scott Farms President Sonny Scott, NC Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest

Portions of the conversation trended to those needs. “The Secretary [Perdue] seemed to be very interested in what we were doing and how we were growing in all areas of the farm”, Sonny explained. “Secretary Perdue, Commissioner Troxler, and the Lieutenant Governor [Dan Forest] toured the fields and packing facility with us and it gave us an opportunity to talk about what the needs of the future would be. Not only for us, but the entire industry. New technologies help some, but our sweet potatoes are hand harvested. We can innovate in other areas of the farm to streamline the process, but in harvesting, the old way is the best way.”

Scott Farms Vice President for Sweet Potato Operations Dewey Scott, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, NC Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler, NC Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest

Scott Farms techniques begin at the plant level with on-farm micro-propagation units and direct relationships with universities for research on growing practices and new varieties. “We work very closely with NC State University to better the industry”, Dewey said. “Currently, we grow several varieties like the Covington, Bonita, and Murasaki to name a few. It allows us to be a primary supplier for our customers and offer them what they need for their customers. Our goal is to be the first place you look for high quality sweet potatoes that are consistently packed. Add in our capabilities for many added value packs, we believe we fit this area very well.”

Jeff Thomas
Scott Farms
Tel: 919.284.4030

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