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• As a result of his success as a livestock and poultry producer, Thomas Porter, Jr., has been selected as the 2011 North Carolina winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.
Thomas Porter, Jr.
Began with five cows
He built his beef herd from five cows. It now consists of 300 Hereford-Angus cows bred to Angus bulls.
“We vaccinate, background and pre-condition our calves before we sell them at 700 to 800 pounds in truckload lots in a tele-auction,” he explains.
“By building a reputation for top quality calves, buyers will want our cattle and hopefully pay a premium.”
His farm has received awards, as a county Farm Family of the Year and for soil and water conservation. He has received environmental stewardship awards from his poultry and pork contracting companies.
“I always wanted to farm,” says Porter. He grew up on a dairy, and raised a garden as a child. In high school, he sold greenhouse tomato plants.
He worked as a welder, pipe fitter and building contractor to raise capital to invest in his farm. “I established my farm during the 1980s, and put in our hogs during 1992,” he recalls. “That’s when I stopped building houses to farm full time.”
He hopes to establish permanent conservation easements to keep his land in agricultural production, and then use proceeds from the easements to buy additional farmland.
In Cabarrus County, he serves as Farm Bureau president, on the Planning and Zoning Board, on the Agricultural District board and chairs the Extension Advisory Committee.
He’s also an associate of the Soil and Water Conservation District. He’s a former member of a watershed improvement group and served as Cattlemen’s Association president.
On the state level, he chairs the Carolina Farm Credit board, serves on the Poultry Federation board and has been a Farm Bureau convention delegate. Nationally, he represents poultry on an American Farm Bureau committee. His farm was also selected for an environmental management pilot project.
His wife Vicky is just as active. She’s a district supervisor in the Cabarrus County Soil and Water Conservation District, chairs the county’s Agricultural District board and is an advisor to the Farm Service Agency County Committee.
On the state level, Vicky has been a member of the Soil and Water Conservation Commission and the North Carolina Ag Foundation. In Farm Bureau, she is a graduate of a leadership program and has been a state convention delegate. She has also been active in American Farm Bureau’s Women’s Committee.
They have three grown children, all involved with the farm. Their son Derek is a firefighter who works at the farm on his days off. Their son Jared is a police officer and works at the farm on weekends. Jared’s wife Colleen manages the farm’s layer operation. Their daughter Erin is a recent college graduate who handles payroll for the farm.