Lucama, North Carolina
Scott Farms, Inc., is a fourth generation farming operation that grows tobacco, sweet potatoes, grain corn, soybeans and wheat.
Alice and Sonny Scott work alongside their two sons, Linwood and Dewey, as well as their daughter-in-laws in Lucama, North Carolina. Linwood serves as the vice president of the tobacco operation and Dewey serves as the vice president of the sweet potato operation.
Sustaining the family business
While the farm started out growing mostly tobacco, Sonny understood that he needed to diversify his income and increase production. For the business to sustain the next generations of Scotts and to work with his sons, he needed a plan.
“When we started this operation, my goal was to double the production with half the labor,” he said. “That’s what it's going to take for my family, my children and my grandchildren, to be able to continue to stay here and make a living.”
Thinking about the various crop options, Sonny decided to cultivate sweet potatoes as he decreased his tobacco crop.
Technology as a problem-solver
Processing and packaging sweet potato is much different than tobacco.
“The challenge that we face is that raw product, the sweet potatoes, are what they are. They all have to be packed and sometimes the raw product is bigger or smaller than you might need it,” Dewey said.
In order to manage this challenge, the Sonny traveled the country and world to learn from his peers. When he returned home, he helped a company design a new sorting system specific to their needs. The equipment is so precise that they can make changes at the level of one tenth of an ounce.
Farm Credit was there to help
The Scotts have relied on Farm Credit to help sustain their business. “Access to capital is an absolute must,” Sonny said. “Farm Credit has always been at our side and could always provide what we needed.”
Considering the large changes they’ve made to their business model over the years, Alice, Sonny’s wife, understands that none of it would have been possible without the support of Farm Credit. “I think it would be impossible for us to expand our business, particularly in the way that we have, without Farm Credit.”
The relationship is mutual. Dean White, the Scott’s loan officer from AgCarolina Farm Credit said, “With the Scott's operation, what impresses me is whether you're out in the field or here at the packing facility, there's always that commitment to excellence.”
Reflecting on his life as a farmer, Sonny feels that his role in the food system is crucial for the wellbeing of the world around him. “Informing and educating the consuming public is one of the most important things that agriculture and agriculture-related industries could possibly do,” he said.