Speaking at the annual peanut field day in Lewiston-Woodville, N.C., Johnny Wynne pointed to a new bio processing facility built in conjunction with the college of engineering on the Raleigh campus. Faculty and researchers housed at the $36 million facility will develop and help market bio-based products that can be grown on the farm. Wynne points to the Grain Growers Cooperative soy diesel project as the type of product that is needed to ensure the future of agriculture in North Carolina.

"Ag and renewable resources can be our future," Wynne says. "A lot of people talk about the demise of agriculture, but like the announcement of Mark Twain’s death, the talk is premature."

Wynne was named interim dean of the college in mid-summer. He succeeded James L. Oblinger, who was named university provost.

A native of the Bear Grass community in Martin County, Wynne is a familiar figure in North Carolina agriculture. After graduating from North Carolina State University in 1965, he went to work as a research assistant while pursuing Master’s and doctoral degrees from North Carolina State. Wynne was named head of the department of crop science in 1989 and associate dean and director of the research service in 1992. For many years, he was the peanut breeder at N.C. State.

Wynne comes to the job amid severe budget cuts in the college during the past several years, but reports that, "our college is doing well despite the budget problems.

"One of the reasons is the quality of our faculty," Wynne says. "In the past year, our faculty has obtained a record level of resources from outside sources to work with. While we are concerned about the budget crunch, we are more concerned about the future of agriculture. It’s a shame when there are more prisoners in the United States than there are farmers in the country.

"We’re committed to supporting traditional, commodity-based agriculture, but we must provide value-added products if we are going to survive," Wynne says. "The farmer can no longer be independent; he has to be interdependent."

e-mail: cyancy@primediabusiness.com