Several years ago I volunteered to work on a tobacco farm. A couple of hours before the break of day, I was sheeting tobacco for a farmer and being soaked by the heat from a flue-cured barn. After getting cleaned up, we headed to town for opening day at the auction. I gained insight about the crop and gained a friend. I sang a song for the farmer before I left.

“I look forward to meeting and visiting with you. I appreciate your comments regarding issues and articles that help keep you informed as you go about the business of producing the nation's — and the world's — food and fiber. Thank you for your time.”

In the early 1990s, the job of reporting on agriculture planted my feet in the middle of 17 chicken houses that had been destroyed by flood. I'll never forget the look of shell-shock on the faces of this family, as they realized that so many hundreds of thousands of birds were lost. Nor will I forget the entire neighborhood turning out to help dispose of the dead birds and to comfort these people. Many in the Virginia-Carolina area experienced similar situations of loss from hurricanes and flooding. Shared traumatic experiences often bring out the best in folks.

These are two experiences I'd like for you to know about as I introduce myself to readers of the Southeast Farm Press in the upper Southeast — North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland and Delaware.

My name is Cecil Yancy. I report, write and comment on agriculture from a base in Raleigh, as associate editor of the Southeast Farm Press.

I come by the job honestly, I'll say. I was raised on a small farm in northeast Alabama. (My dad also worked off-farm at TVA for 35 years. We raised pimento peppers.) One of the best things in the whole world is to feel freshly turned soil between your toes as you are walking through a field. Ranks right up there with a good family, good friends, a good guitar and a good conversation with farmers. Back where I'm from, if you didn't work, you didn't eat. I like to eat. I'm a family man and have five children. I graduated from Auburn University.

The road to this position has had stops at the Georgia Farm Bureau, and the most recent six years writing mainly about peanuts with The Peanut Farmer magazine and tobacco at the Flue-Cured Tobacco Farmer at Spec Ag Publications in Raleigh.

The best part of the job as an agricultural editor is getting to know the people and the crops they produce. There's never a time that I fail to take away something I didn't know before when I'm conversing with ag people. The goal is to pass on timely, reliable information.

I look forward to meeting and visiting with you. I appreciate your comments regarding issues and articles that help keep you informed as you go about the business of producing the nation's — and the world's — food and fiber. Thank you for your time.